Oracle-HP court battle over Itanium delayed indefinitely

An oft-delayed jury trial over damages was set to start next week but is now postponed indefinitely pending an appeal

Oracle and Hewlett-Packard's ongoing legal battle over software for Itanium has run into another delay, and this time there's no telling how long it will last.

HP sued Oracle in 2011 after the database company announced it would stop porting software to Itanium, the chip architecture at the heart of HP's high-end "business critical" servers. HP won in the first phase of the case last year, when Judge James Kleinberg of the Santa Clara Superior Court ruled that Oracle had to resume porting.

The second phase of the trial, where HP is expected to seek about US$4 billion in damages from Oracle, has been delayed several times and now has no trial date at all.

Oracle had sought to shut down the damages phase of the trial by filing a so-called anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) motion that said HP was infringing on its free speech. On Monday, Kleinberg dismissed that motion on the grounds it was filed too late. Oracle promptly appealed Kleinberg's decision to a higher court.

Though Kleinberg at first rescheduled the trial to start next Monday, on Tuesday he vacated the trial date completely pending a decision on the appeal. The next time HP's and Oracle's lawyers are scheduled to meet in court will be at a status conference on May 10.

The lawsuit set two formerly close business partners against each other after a series of events that gradually soured their relationship. At the heart of the case is an agreement the companies reached after former HP CEO Mark Hurd was fired in August 2010 and joined Oracle only a month later.

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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