HPE ordered to pay Oracle US$30M in copyright damages

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HPE ordered to pay Oracle US$30M in copyright damages

A California jury has awarded Oracle US$30 million (NZ$47.15 million) in damages from HPE, for providing updates for the Solaris operating system without permission from the database giant.

In its ruling the jury found that HPE and its hardware maintenance partner Terix had infringed on Oracle copyrights by providing unauthorised updates for Solaris.

Oracle earns revenue from providing support and patches for Solaris.

An HPE spokesperson said the company disagrees with the verdict and is evaluating its options.

The jury In the case heard at the United States District Court of Northern California also awarded Oracle a further U$24 million for claimed interference, but the company is only entitled to the US$30 million damages, and not the combined US$54 million amount. 

Oracle had sought US$128 million (NZ$201.17 million) in damages, according to a report by Courthouse News Service.

The long-running legal dispute with HPE began after Oracle bought Sun Microsystems in 2010 for US$7.4 billion.

That acquisition gave Oracle Sun’s highly prized workstation business, and the rights to the Solaris operating system, putting the enterprise software vendor in direct competition with HP as the company was known at the time.

As a result of the Sun Microsystems acquistion, Oracle discontinued developing software for the Intel Itanium processor which was used in enterprise servers by HPE.

HPE argued that Oracle’s March 2011 announcement that it would no longer develop software for Itanium servers “was part of a calculated business strategy to drive hardware sales from Itanium to inferior Sun servers.” 

HP at the time said that this demonstrated a breach of contract by Oracle, as it ignored repeated promises of support to the companies' shared customers.

Legal action ensued and in 2016, a California jury ordered Oracle to pay HPE US$3 billion in damages in the long-running dispute between the two companies to settle the matter of softwre support for Itanium servers.

HPE’s latest 10Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) noted that as of October 12, 2021, Oracle had paid US$4.66 billion (NZ$7.32 billion), representing the judgement award owed with accrued interest.

That amount was shared by HPE with HP as the two companies had split from one another in 2015.

In total, HPE said has received payment of approximately US$2.35 billion (NZ$3.7 billion) as a gain from litigation judgment during the year ended October 31, 2021. 

With the United States Supreme Court denying Oracle’s petition, that contractual dispute is “now closed,” said HPE in the SEC filing. 



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