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HP files lawsuit against Hurd, Oracle responds aggressively

Microscope contributor

HP has filed a lawsuit in California against former CEO Mark Hurd for breach of contract, less than one day after he agreed to become Oracle president and board director.

During his five year tenure at HP, Hurd was paid millions of dollars in cash and stock options to keep schtum about trade secrets and sensitive data including strategy, customer contacts and pricing.

It is this information which HP claimed would be put at risk by his appointment.

"In his new positions, Hurd will be in a siutation in which he cannot perform his duties for Oracle without necessarily using and disclosing HP's trade secrets and confidential information to others," the HP lawsuit alleges.

"Hurd will be violating his legal obligations to HP and his trade protection agreements by working as Oracle's president and as a member of the board of directors," it added.

Hurd's gushing comments yesterday about Oracle's Exadata platform, which directly competes with HP's ProLiant range, was just one of the many examples where the two companies come up against eachother, HP said.

HP is demanding that Hurd clarify his new position with Oracle and is seeking an order to prevent him from joining any competitor at an executive level.

However with no non-compete agreement in place, US lawyers reckon California state law will not favour HP.

The exit door for Hurd was thrown open early last month following revelations about a sexual harrassment probe triggered by complaints from former marketing contractor and soft-core porn actress Jodie Fisher.

The investigation found Hurd had not violated the company's sexual harrassment policy but it discovered a series of falsified expense claims from him.

The HP board then came under fire from Oracle CEO Larry Ellison who branded the ending of Hurd's time in charge as "the worst personnel decision since Apple fired Steve Jobs".

He jumped to Hurd's side again tonight and in a statement pointed out that the long standing patnership in place between Oracle and HP was in jeopardy.

"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," Ellison added.

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