Oracle Using Private Investigators To Hunt Down HP’s Apotheker

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Oracle has hired private investigators to track down Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker, according to reports

The Oracle/SAP court room spat has taken something of a bizarre turn after Reuters, citing unnamed sources “familiar with the situation,” reported 10 November that Oracle has been using private detectives to try and locate new Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker.

Apotheker is a key material witness Oracle would like to question in copyright infringement litigation it has brought against SAP, his longtime former employer.

As one might expect, neither Oracle nor HP would comment on the report.

Out Of The Country?

Apotheker took over the top executive position at HP on 1 November and ostensibly is out of the country, touring HP locations – although HP will not attest to this. If he comes within 100 miles of the trial location in Oakland, California, he can be subpoenaed by the judge and forced to testify in the case.

Oracle is trying to convince a federal court to fine SAP $2.15 billion (£1.3 billion) for stealing its intellectual property and using it to lure customers away. So the stakes are quite high.

Apotheker was CEO of SAP when the company – through an American-based affiliate, TomorrowNow – illegally downloaded millions of instances’ worth of Oracle software and product documentation some three to five years ago. SAP already has admitted responsibility for TomorrowNow’s actions.

The court case, originated by an Oracle lawsuit first brought in 2007, is to determine how much SAP will be fined for the actions of its now-defunct, former wholly owned subsidiary.

HP refused to accept a subpoena requested by Oracle last week, when the trial began in federal court, saying it does not divulge the whereabouts of its executives.

Sexual Harassment

Apotheker was named the new CEO of HP on 9 October, two months after his predecessor, Mark Hurd, was forced to resign following charges of sexual harassment by a former HP employee and a subsequent expenses-related coverup. Hurd has since settled the complaint out of court.

To add even more intrigue into the case, Hurd was named co-president of Oracle on 6 September, one month after leaving HP.

Ellison ‘Deeply Worried’

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, testifying in the punishment phase of the trial that started 1 November, told Federal Court Judge Shirley Hamilton and a packed courtroom November that he was “deeply worried” about his company “bleeding customers” because of SAP’s actions to lure customers away from Oracle.

Two years after it was acquired by SAP, TomorrowNow was caught stealing Oracle’s intellectual property by gaining unauthorised access to a customer-support Oracle website and downloading copyrighted instances of support software and thousands of pages of documentation.

Oracle claimed that more than 8 million instances of its enterprise support software worth $2.15 billion were stolen, stored on SAP’s servers and used without its permission.

It also charged that SAP/TomorrowNow deployed automated bots that used Oracle’s own software to lure customers from PeopleSoft (owned by Oracle) over to SAP.

Enterprise support software amounts to about half of Oracle’s annual revenue.

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