Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
HP Businesses Oracle The Courts News

HP Sues Hurd For Joining Oracle 301

Posted by Soulskill
from the following-the-hurd dept.
CWmike writes "Hewlett-Packard is reported to be suing former CEO Mark Hurd, who was named co-president of rival Oracle on Monday. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news, and has now posted the full text of the suit on Google Docs. Among other things, it says, 'In his new positions, Hurd will be in a situation in which he cannot perform his duties for Oracle without necessarily using and disclosing HP's trade secrets and confidential information to others.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

HP Sues Hurd For Joining Oracle

Comments Filter:
  • Well (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The GNU this was going to happen.

    • Exactly. HP/UX died years ago.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tetsujin (103070)

      The GNU this was going to happen.

      You know, I read this headline and immediately thought of GNU Hurd... And then I thought about it, and remembered that it couldn't possibly be about GNU Hurd, because GNU Hurd hasn't been relevant since... ever.

  • Of course I don't know what peculiarities were in his golden parachute contract as far as how long he couldn't work for the/any competition but I doubt he didn't talk this over with some corporate lawyers at least.

    In any case, if they don't like him bringing his ass(ets) over to another company, they should've kept him. Nothing much they can do about it now unless he's still under contract.

    • by JeffSpudrinski (1310127) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:25PM (#33501912)

      That's pretty much it.

      Unless there's a signed "non-compete" document from Hurd, HP will just have to live with their mess up.

      I'd be surprised if Mr. Hurd signed such a document.

      Just my $0.02

      -JJS

      • by Vancorps (746090) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:29PM (#33501970)
        The lawsuit isn't about Oracle competing with HP, it's about disclosing HP trade secrets. At this stage I doubt HP has any real secrets left though as their development seems quite stale.
        • by cgenman (325138) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:37PM (#33502094) Homepage

          Secret 1: Outsource everything.
          Secret 2: Employees are interchangeable.
          Secret 3: Good enough is probably too expensive.
          Secret 4: There is still at least enough good will for the HP name to milk another five years.

          • by Vancorps (746090)
            haha, sounds like the HP I've gotten know
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

              I was only with HP for a year, and I'm glad to be rid of them.

              IBM isn't perfect, but they are much better than HP at least.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by poetmatt (793785)

        bingo.

        confidentiality means nothing. Really they're citing news articles as their reasoning for the suit.

        what HP is trying to due here, is a: trying to make Hurd look bad and b: try to extract money from oracle by forcing them to settle. Why bother with A? I'm quite certain that if he's not found guilty he could actually sue HP for libel on this one, citing the complaint.

        They're trying to claim misappropriation of trade secrets, but considering he has been at HP maybe a week? They have nothing to show for

        • by poetmatt (793785)

          additional note: whether to be able to sue successfully is anyone's guess. But I wonder if he would have a libel case in such an instance.

        • by mea37 (1201159)

          "confidentiality means nothing"

          I'm curious why you believe this.

          "I'm quite certain that if he's not found guilty he could actually sue HP for libel on this one, citing the complaint."

          First, I suppose it's a bit of a technicallity, but this is a civil filing. He is not accused of a crime. There is no "guilty" or "not guilty".

          Second, defamation suits are notoriously hard to win in the U.S. Filing a civil complaint that is later dismissed is not, in and of itself, at all likely to constitute libel. I would

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by hedwards (940851)

            "confidentiality means nothing"

            I'm curious why you believe this.

            Probably because it's true. Once you're no longer working for the company you are no longer under any obligation to keep anything secret, unless you've agreed not to, either in writing or as a part of a verbal agreement. I used to work for a company that required all kinds of silence about just about everything. The moment I quit though, I stopped being silent about any of it. At that point there wasn't a damned thing they could do about it as I hadn't agreed to remain silent after separating from the compa

      • by Local ID10T (790134) <ID10T.L.USER@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:36PM (#33502080) Homepage

        Unless there's a signed "non-compete" document from Hurd, HP will just have to live with their mess up.

        In California, non-compete agreements [wikipedia.org] have been disallowed by the courts...

      • I wouldn't be surprised at all if there were a ream of confidentiality documents that all corporate officers have to sign. Perhaps also a non-compete agreement as well. These folks have access to lots of info, technical and otherwise, that would be potentially devastating if leaked outside the company.

        That being said, this sort of bickering isn't unusual when a high ranking player leaves one company and goes to work for a competitor. See Microsoft/Google, and various others. HP will get some money a
        • When I worked for a company in CA they wanted me to sign a non-compete document. I asked what would happen if I didn't want to sign it. They just told me not to sign it. I gave it back blank. It didn't affect my hiring or future employment.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        He's not competing. He's moved to a technology company. :-)

    • by tomhudson (43916)

      - or he could have thought with his big head instead of his little one.

      Non-disclosure/non-competes still apply after you leave - more so when you're fired for cause. You *can* challenge them if you were terminated w/o cause, but that's not the case here.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Non-disclosure/non-competes still apply after you leave - more so when you're fired for cause. You *can* challenge them if you were terminated w/o cause, but that's not the case here.

        No, they don't apply at all. Any non-compete clauses in a contract are invalidated by California law.

        • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:37PM (#33502100)

          No, they don't apply at all. Any non-compete clauses in a contract are invalidated by California law.

          That's true in the general case, but California law still allows a company to sue to prevent use of its trade secrets, which is the angle HP is taking here.

          • Also (Score:4, Informative)

            by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @05:01PM (#33502348)

            This could have been different in that it may have been required to get his bonus. That sort of thing is almost always legal, since it is regular contract law. You come work for me, we have a normal employment agreement. However I say "You know, there's a lot of stuff you are privy to that I don't want getting out. So if I lay you off, I'll give you a big bonus, but in turn for that you can't go work for my competitors, you can't write an expose book, and so on."

            Now of course you don't have to do agree to that, but if you don't, you don't get the bonus.

            So while California may well say "You can't have a non-compete on normal employment," a termination bonus is a different thing.

            • by Myopic (18616)

              I find that legal reasoning interesting but have never heard it before. Are you a California lawyer? or do you know California employment law particularly well? or can you provide a source for that tidbit? I just find it a little tough to believe and would like to hear more.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

                It's a contract, and it applies like any other.

                The argument HP is making is not that Hurd isn't allowed to work for Oracle because of a previous agreement with HP. That would be a non-compete, and is not valid in California.

                The argument HP is making is that it is impossible for Hurd to perform his new duties for Oracle without sharing HP's trade secrets, and Hurd has a contract with HP saying he will not share HP's trade secrets. In other words it's a breach of contract due to conflict of interest, not a

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by DragonWriter (970822)

              This could have been different in that it may have been required to get his bonus. That sort of thing is almost always legal, since it is regular contract law. You come work for me, we have a normal employment agreement. However I say "You know, there's a lot of stuff you are privy to that I don't want getting out. So if I lay you off, I'll give you a big bonus, but in turn for that you can't go work for my competitors, you can't write an expose book, and so on."

              Now of course you don't have to do agree to t

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
                The word you seem to have misinterpreted is "restrained". I can see how you would be confused. It means prevent, stop, disallow etc.

                There is nothing stopping the person from seeking employment with a competing company by saying "If you choose to work for a competing company within $term after contract termination, you will not receive your Golden Handshake." They are absolutely not prevented from seeking competing employment, they just have to way up the pay packet of the new job against the severance pack
          • by tomhudson (43916) <.barbara.hudson. ... bara-hudson.com.> on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @05:05PM (#33502390) Journal
            Especially since he signed a separation agreement that paid him $12,224,693.00 in return for keeping those secrets, and agreeing not to accept employment that would conflict. He can now kiss that money good-bye, as the lawyers will eat it up.
            • Ellison isn't a stupid man. He is also a multi-billionaire. I'm sure he and Hurd worked out the specifics of the separation package and any signing bonus.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mjwalshe (1680392)
            Depends on where Hurd was employed as a lot of companies incorporate in Delaware for tax reasons - I could see companies doing similar things with employment ie their Catberts shop around for an employer friendly state and make them "mobile" workers who are “employed” in the employer friendly state.

            Basically at this level you hire expensive barristers and attempt to rip the other side to pieces in court – I suspect that HP will bring up all the “dirt” that they hid when Hurd
            • And Hurd will be in a position to bring up all the dirt about the board and it's chairman.

              This is just HP acting spitefully, IMHO.

        • by tomhudson (43916) <.barbara.hudson. ... bara-hudson.com.> on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:53PM (#33502266) Journal

          Any non-compete clauses in a contract are invalidated by California law.

          So Hurd can never leave California to visit an Oracle office elsewhere without being slapped with a lawsuit in another jurisdiction. Sounds like HP will enjoy that :-)

          They're alleging

          1. misapropriation of trade secrets (article 2 of the complaint)
          2. breech of contract (article 3 of the complaint)

          They cite California Civil Code 3426.2(a) [onecle.com], so no, contracts are not automatically invalidated - it depends on the terms of employment.

          California Civil Code Section 3426.2

          (a) Actual or threatened misappropriation may be enjoined. Upon application to the court, an injunction shall be terminated when the trade secret has ceased to exist, but the injunction may be continued for an additional period of time in order to eliminate commercial advantage that otherwise would be derived from the misappropriation.
          (b) If the court determines that it would be unreasonable to prohibit future use, an injunction may condition future use upon payment of a reasonable royalty for no longer than the period of time the use could have been prohibited.
          (c) In appropriate circumstances, affirmative acts to protect a trade secret may be compelled by court order.

          It's quite simple - his new job at Oracle puts him in a position where he will be violating HP trade secrets. He simply cannot work as the CEO of any large US IT company without attracting such a lawsuit.

          • by mjwalshe (1680392)
            well a non tech company would be ok say Kraft
          • by hedwards (940851)
            That would be unseemly to say the least. You file suit in the defendants home jurisdiction. I realize that corporations love to venue shop, but you're supposed to file suit in the venue most convenient to the defendant in the case. I'm not sure how that came to be, but I suspect it had to do with not wanting to force somebody to settle because they couldn't afford to travel to court.
            • by tomhudson (43916) <.barbara.hudson. ... bara-hudson.com.> on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @06:22PM (#33503290) Journal
              If you get caught breaking a law in Kansas, you don't get to argue that you should be tried in California. the minute he steps out of California, he opens himself up to additional lawsuits, because of the venue the breech of contract is taking place. He goes to attend a meeting on behalf of Oracle in New York, that's where he commits the breech, that's the proper venue.

              He got over $12 million as a separation payment in which he specifically reaffirmed that he would not work for a competitor for a year. Oracle names HP as a major competitor in the 10k SEC filing. Both he and Oracle are properly being sued already under section 3426 [onecle.com] of the California Civil Code - this would just be additional lawsuits.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by DRJlaw (946416)

              You file suit in the defendants home jurisdiction. I realize that corporations love to venue shop, but you're supposed to file suit in the venue most convenient to the defendant in the case. I'm not sure how that came to be, but I suspect it had to do with not wanting to force somebody to settle because they couldn't afford to travel to court.

              Absolutely wrong. You file suit in your home jurisdiction, or in a jurisdiction that you think is neutral, but almost never in the defendant's home jurisdiction. Th

          • by HermMunster (972336) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @05:57PM (#33503016)

            Hurd has overall knowledge but non-specific. His job was to direct the goals of the company. It wasn't to design chips, OSes, etc. His knowledge is about the direction the company was going, how to set up their priorities, how to spend and grow. He didn't have specific knowledge about the coding of projects or the design of hardware, just the direction those would take.

            Oracle and Ellison are not really competitors to HP in the vast majority of areas where Oracle generates revenue (Oracle is primarily a relational database company selling to big companies). HP's competing OS is a non-starter. Even Oracle's acquisition of products from Sun wouldn't be such a major threat in any market to HP. As far as business models go Oracle's and HP's are probably quite different as they target different markets for the most part, as Oracle doesn't make printers nor desktop PCs and what they do compete with is probably limited to server markets where HP just doesn't have that much moxy.

            If they try to limit Hurd's overall knowledge exposure they'll loose, they'll have to overcome years of legal history where one CEO goes to work for another company. And, this is HP's burden. HP must prove what they claim.

  • Hurd and Oracle only to find out once again it's talking about this guy. Man, he should really change his name.

  • by snspdaarf (1314399) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:21PM (#33501832)
    Such as, maybe, giving Larry her phone number?
  • by bertoelcon (1557907) * <berto.el.con@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:22PM (#33501846)
    That's all.
    • by zero_out (1705074)
      Technically, he resigned. Unofficially, he was forced out. According to many current and former HP employees he was a great CEO, but a horrible employer. Most are still disgusted at his $40 million (approx) severance, considering the pay cuts they endured last year, and all the layoffs.
      • by hedwards (940851)
        Unfortunately, that's usually the case, great CEO poor employer or great employer poor CEO, I blame it on all the market interference to prop up poorly run companies. It's been going on for a really long time, and at this point we may need to institute regulations barring corporate take overs of bankrupt businesses. Allow them to buy portions of bankrupt companies, just not the whole thing.
  • How is it... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tacarat (696339)
    Somebody makes sure that lowly IT workers get served up with non-compete clauses in contracts, but the guy at the top didn't?
  • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:22PM (#33501856)

    California has a pretty clear cut law [lawzilla.com] that makes almost all non-compete clauses NULL and VOID. It'll be interesting to see how this one plays out.

    • by JeffSpudrinski (1310127) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:31PM (#33501984)

      From your link:

      "Non-compete agreements are enforceable for partnerships and when someone is selling their ownership interest in a company. A related topic is the protection of trade secrets. A company can prevent the use of its trade secrets, but it cannot prevent fair competition"

      Looks like they are trying to use the "trade secrets" protection part.

      You are correct in that it should be interesting to see how it plays out.

      Just my $0.02.

      -JJS

      • by afabbro (33948)
        I wonder if there is some legal value to suing Oracle about trade secrets and getting them to settle and promise to never use HP trade secrets. Then in the future, HP would have something in writing to beat Oracle up with if it's to their advantage...but IANAL.
        • by hedwards (940851)
          There's a few ways it could shake out, they could get a check, more likely they'd get access to some of Oracle's IP in exchange for Oracle getting to use some of HP's. It's rather implausible that Hurd will be able to work for Oracle without some degree of compensation or arrangements being made to fire wall his knowledge from the rest of the company for some period of time.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by corbettw (214229)

          Well, if HP really doesn't want Oracle to use Hurd's knowledge of their products, Oracle could completely distance themselves from HP for a year or two. Heck, they come out and announce they no longer support Oracle running on HP hardware, except for those contracts already in existence, and that Oracle shops should switch to Dell servers. Just to make sure no HP IP inadvertently ends up in Oracle products. I'm sure that would make the HP board very, very happy.

    • California has a pretty clear cut law [lawzilla.com] that makes almost all non-compete clauses NULL and VOID.

      Not quite. My understanding is that the law treats owners and the highest ranked executives differently than ordinary worker. Especially when trade secrets and other proprietary information is involved.

      However even for workers the law you cite can get fuzzy. Lets say you agree to accept a payment in return for not working at a competitor for a reasonable amount of time, say a year. If you choose to take such a job you may be free to do so but you may also need to return the payment.

  • Painful (Score:4, Funny)

    by MarkRose (820682) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:26PM (#33501920) Homepage

    That's right, HP, kick Oracle where it hurds!

  • by strangeattraction (1058568) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:33PM (#33502026)
    You are given the parachute in return for the non-compete clause. Therefore you are being compensated for not just getting fired and going to the competition and spilling your guts. The grace period lets your knowledge specific to the company go out of date.
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:38PM (#33502110) Journal

      You are given the parachute in return for the non-compete clause.

      Maybe a little bit. But I think it's more for not airing dirty laundry that might have bad impacts on the stock price.

      But mostly, you're given the golden parachute so that you will return the favor in kind at the corporations where you sit on the board. Isn't that how the game is played?

      • by hedwards (940851)
        I doubt that there's anything to the suit, between Hurd and Oracle I'm sure at least one party had a pack of lawyers look through the papers to make sure that there wasn't legitimate grounds for a suit of this nature. I'm sure they would've found a clause preventing him from working for Oracle.
  • This is gonna kinda be like Godzilla vs. Mothra. It doesn't matter who wins the city of Tokyo is TOAST!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Personally I am rooting on Hurd because that will help many of the little people too with these same clauses. I think that if they do not want him working for a set period of time, then then need to pay him for that time based on current salary (same as any other worker whom they do not want to work for the competition). That would make things fair for both sides.

  • by ddusza (775603) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:39PM (#33502124)
    ...and decides to go to Oracle, is that considering 'following the Hurd?"
  • by C_Kode (102755) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:46PM (#33502186) Journal

    You sign a non-compete agreement, then immediately sign up with one of the companies biggest competitors!

    Either Hurd is actually a complete and utter moron or he has nads the size of Jupiter! I'm going with the latter.

  • Suck it HP (Score:4, Insightful)

    by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @05:08PM (#33502438) Homepage Journal

    California is a Right to Work State, you want to sue to prevent someone from having a job? Then move to Washington or New York.
    Here in California we recognize the need for a person to earn a living plying their skill is more important than your need to treat people like property.
    But hey, since those lawyers are salaried, better to use them to harass Mr. Sexual Harassment to put those payroll dollars to work am I right?

    • by chazzf (188092)
      If he signed a non-compete he waived that right. According to the suit he signed such an agreement.
  • Trying to sue someone for what they might do is a huge stretch. And the idea that anyone can control a former employee is off the wall in some states. Usually one's obligations end when the pay checks stop. It's called freedom.

  • Most intelligent people,finding themselves at the bottom of a hole, would stop digging...

    HP on the other hand, having dug themselves in pretty deep on this one already, have just hired a crew at many hundreds of dollars per hour to help them dig deeper!
  • Mark Hurd's success is directly tied to the amount of people he can. He's absolutely known as a hatchetman, and will do so at the drop of a hat. The problem is, it works...he doesn't care about the employees, just the board, and doing what he does best makes them very happy.

    Hurd used to be the CEO for NCR when I worked for him, and he did the same thing there....from there he moved to HP, and whacked something in the ball park of 7-9k jobs right away. Nothing will make a company look profitable faster than

  • by redelm (54142) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @07:15PM (#33503802) Homepage

    HP's Board may be pretend to be aggrieved, but there is little they can do. California basically bans non-compete clauses. Some lawyers will get rich, and it will all be settled out of sight.

    It would be more convincing if HP weren't such d@mned hypocrits: they complain of corporate secret leakage, yet they hired in Carly Fiorio as CEO from Lucent to get networking going and Mark Furd himself from NCR. Both "closer" in market terms to HP than Oracle is.

    I think the HP Bored is just unhappy Mark bounced back quickly and very vexed the market agrees with him (Oracle's stock when up, HP down). Arrogant SOBs. I'd be embarrassed to work for them. Or buy their products.

There is no distinction between any AI program and some existent game.

Working...