Oracle's Ellison Antagonizes HP CEO

Oracle's Larry Ellison is on the warpath again, this time setting his sights on HP's new CEO Léo Apotheker.
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) --


(ORCL) - Get Report

fiery CEO Larry Ellison is on the warpath again, this time setting his sights on new


(HPQ) - Get Report


Léo Apotheker.

Ellison has launched a stinging attack on Apotheker, alleging that he oversaw a scheme to steal Oracle's software during his previous role as CEO of German software giant


(SAP) - Get Report

, a claim that HP described as harassment.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison

A jury trial to settle the case begins on Monday. In court documents, SAP has already admitted wrongdoing, but is challenging the extent of Oracle's claim for damages. Oracle is reportedly seeking $2 billion, whereas SAP argues that a settlement in the "tens of millions

of dollars, at most" would be fair.

Ellison, however, is going after Apotheker, escalating a recent war of words between Oracle and HP.

"A few weeks ago I accused HP's new CEO, Leo Apotheker, of overseeing an industrial espionage scheme centering on the repeated theft of massive amounts of Oracle's software. A major portion of this theft occurred while Mr. Apotheker was CEO of SAP," claimed Ellison in a statement released late on Tuesday. "HP's Chairman, Ray Lane, immediately came to Mr. Apotheker's defense by writing a letter stating, 'Oracle has been litigating this case for years and has never offered any evidence that Mr. Apotheker was involved.' Well, that's what we are planning to do during the trial that starts next Monday."


reported that Oracle intends to subpoena Apotheker to testify at the trial, something Oracle was previously unable to do because he was living outside of the jurisdiction of the San Francisco area court that will try the case.


an avid trash talker

, said that if HP keeps Apotheker far way the firm's Silicon Valley headquarters, then Oracle will be unable to subpoena him. "My guess is that HP's new chairman, Mr. Lane, will keep HP's new CEO, Mr. Apotheker, far, far away from the courthouse until this trial is over," he said in the statement.

HP shot back at Oracle, accusing its rival of attempting to harass its new CEO.

"Oracle had ample opportunity to question Leo during his sworn deposition in October 2008 and chose not to include him as a trial witness until he was named CEO of HP," explained an HP spokesperson, in an email to


. "Given Leo's limited knowledge of and role in the matter, Oracle's last-minute effort to require him to appear live at trial is no more than an effort to harass him and interfere with his duties and responsibilities as HP's CEO."

Oracle shares dipped 14 cents, or 0.49%, to $28.49 on Wednesday, mirroring the modest retreat in tech stocks that saw the Nasdaq slip 0.44%. HP shares fell 78 cents, or 1.82%, to $42.17.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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