Jury to hear HP-Oracle Itanium case in February

A judge has already ruled the two companies had a contract, and Oracle has resumed software porting to Itanium

Hewlett-Packard's lawsuit against Oracle over the latter's decision to halt future software development for Itanium will enter its second phase on Feb. 4, 2013, in front of a jury that will determine whether Oracle breached a contract and what damages it may owe.

The jury trial in the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, is expected to last about three weeks, according to court documents filed on Monday.

The first phase of the case came to a conclusion in August when Judge James Kleinberg, who is presiding over the case, ruled that the two companies had a contract that required Oracle to keep writing software for Itanium-based servers. On the basis of that decision, the judge ruled that Oracle had to continue porting its products to the high-availability hardware platform. Last week, Oracle said it would do so until HP stopped selling Itanium servers. Industry analysts and Itanium users cheered the move.

HP sued Oracle in June 2011 following that company's surprise decision in March 2011 to stop writing versions of its new software releases for Itanium. HP's Integrity line of enterprise servers are the biggest remaining platform for Itanium, which HP originally developed with Intel about 10 years ago. Oracle countersued, saying Itanium was going to be phased out and HP had hid that information.

The case laid bare a long history of conflict between the two companies, which they tried to mend in September 2010 with an agreement over former HP CEO Mark Hurd's move to Oracle. That was where Oracle committed to continued porting, according to HP.

Kleinberg heard arguments and testimony earlier this year to determine whether the Hurd Agreement was a binding contract. He determined it was and ordered Oracle to fulfill it. But it will be up to a jury to decide whether Oracle committed breach of contract and what damages it must pay.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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