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HP urges the EU to launch an antitrust case against Oracle

Claims software giant froze HP out of the hardware business
Wed Nov 23 2011, 15:12

FLOGGER OF EXPENSIVE PRINTER INK HP is attempting to get European antitrust regulators to investigate Oracle, claiming the firm used its software to push HP out of the hardware market in Europe.

HP and Oracle have been in a bitter public battle over support for Intel's Itanium processor, with HP now claiming that Oracle's considerable influence on the software market led to HP being frozen out of parts of the hardware market. HP is now trying to get European antitrust authorities to investigate its claims in the matter.

According to HP's attorney Robert Cooper, the antitrust action HP is trying to instigate against Oracle is different from the US legal battles between the two firms. Cooper said, "[The issues] turn on whether Oracle is abusing its position of power on software to drive us out of the hardware business."

An HP spokesperson told The INQUIRER, "HP is pursuing all avenues to enforce Oracle's commitments to HP and our shared customers, and will continue to take actions to protect its customers' best interests. It is our hope that Oracle will honor its commitments to HP and to our shared customers."

The relationship between HP and Oracle has been frosty for some time, especially since HP's former CEO Mark Hurd left the company under something of a cloud only to end up as president of Oracle soon after. But it was Oracle's decision to drop support for Itanium systems that really set the fireworks off.

Late last week Oracle claimed that Intel, like Oracle, would have given up on the Itanium processor had it not been for a supposedly secret contract between HP and Intel. Initially HP skirted around the matter, only to finally reveal that it does have a development contract in place with Intel for the Itanium processor.

HP's contract with Intel won't be worth all that much if Oracle, which develops many popular business software applications, does not support the Itanium architecture. As both HP and Intel know, without long term software support, selling Itanium kit will become extremely difficult.

Although HP is gunning for a European antitrust inquiry, there is no word if there will actually be one. Given the time required for antitrust cases to conclude, even if Oracle is found to be at fault, Itanium could well be nothing more than a footnote in computing history by then. µ


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