Oracle calls HP's lawsuit against Hurd 'vindictive'

Oracle says the suit threatens the companies' close relationship

Oracle called Hewlett-Packard's lawsuit against its former CEO "vindictive" and said it threatened the companies' close relationship.

The lawsuit followed Mark Hurd's resignation from HP last month and Oracle's announcement on Monday that it had hired Hurd as one of its co-presidents. HP said Hurd's employment at Oracle violated the terms of his severance agreement with HP and raised confidentiality issues.

"Oracle has long viewed HP as an important partner," Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said in a statement. "By filing this vindictive lawsuit against Oracle and Mark Hurd, the HP board is acting with utter disregard for that partnership, our joint customers, and their own shareholders and employees. The HP Board is making it virtually impossible for Oracle and HP to continue to cooperate and work together in the IT marketplace."

Hurd resigned from HP in early August following a charge of sexual harassment by a contractor and alleged improprieties with expense reports. He walked away with a severance payment of US$12.2 million plus hundreds of thousands of shares of HP stock, worth an additional tens of millions of dollars.

"Despite being paid millions of dollars in cash, stock and stock options in exchange for Hurd's agreements to protect HP's trade secrets .... HP is informed and believes and thereon alleges that Hurd has put HP's most valuable trade secrets and confidential information in peril," HP alleged in its lawsuit, filed Tuesday in a Santa Clara, California, court.

According to the suit, Hurd agreed to notify HP within a year of his departure whether he plans to take a job with a competitor and offer HP enough details about the job to determine if it would lead to a violation of the confidentiality agreement. Hurd didn't do so prior to Oracle's Monday announcement, HP says.

HP is asking the court to prevent Hurd from taking the job.

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