Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Hopes for an Oracle-HP Thaw Dashed as Settlement Talks Crash

At least my instincts were right. That two-day pause in the action of the trial pitting Hewlett-Packard against Oracle was indeed for settlement talks, according to a report from Bloomberg News.

It’s not uncommon for litigants to try and settle their differences out of court even after the trial has started, and it wouldn’t surprise me if another pause occurs in the coming days or weeks. Representatives for both HP and Oracle are declining to comment on the report.

The talks did take place in the wake of an apparent public warming between the CEOs of HP and Oracle. Two weeks ago at D: All Things Digital, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said he likes HP CEO Meg Whitman. Whitman returned the compliment days later in an interview with AllThingsD.

It’s the second time that formal settlement talks are known to have taken place since the lawsuit was filed a year ago. Some mandatory court-ordered talks failed in May. And there have been informal talks since the Itanium controversy erupted 16 months ago.

Meanwhile, in court today, Timothy Aylott, an HP software exec, testified that many Oracle products had been ported to run on HP-UX, HP’s variant of the Unix operating system that is installed on its Itanium-based servers, without the existence of a formal contract. A lot pivots on how this point will ultimately be interpreted. HP is seeking to force Oracle to stick by the commitment it says Oracle agreed to in a paragraph of their settlement of the lawsuit over Mark Hurd’s becoming president at Oracle following his 2010 resignation as HP’s CEO.

Oracle says the paragraph doesn’t amount to an enforceable contract and that it’s free to stop porting its software to Itanium. It has also argued that Intel planned to end production of Itanium chips which outside of HP were never a commercial success anyway, and has only continued it because HP paid it to continue building them. Oracle has also argued that HP and Intel intentionally misled customers about the Itanium platform’s future.

Also on the stand today was Martin Fink, head of HP’s Business Critical Systems unit, who talked about how important HP considers Oracle’s software for use on those servers. Fink will still be on the stand tomorrow. Also expected tomorrow are Sandy Vella, an Oracle executive, and Dave Donatelli, the executive vice president of HP’s Enterprise Group.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus