back to article HP sues Hurd to keep secrets from Ellison

Hewlett-Packard has sued disgraced former chief executive Mark Hurd in an effort to stop him joining Oracle. The world's largest PC marker claims that in joining Oracle, Hurd would breach confidentially agreements signed at HP and may reveal trade secrets and confidential customer information. HP – which went to court on …


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  1. Shannon Jacobs

    Are some businessmen sociopathic?

    I don't know about Hurd, but I've been watching this Ellison guy for a while. I'm not saying that you have to be a sociopath to be a successful businessman--but it seems to help in many cases. Not the kind of sociopath that murders people, but a lesser form of sociopath who, for the sake of money, will do almost anything to get more of it. I'm mostly reminded of the potato-based billionaire who criticized those lazy slackers who were satisfied with a measly $20 million. (His big customer was McDonald's. He finally died in his 90s, as I recall.)

    However, the real problem is when the sociopaths buy cheap politicians and write the laws to encourage (or at least legalize) their own form of vicious selfishness and mindless short-sighted greed. Maybe there is no alternative to a revolution--but I think the sociopaths are deliberately positioning themselves to make sure that the outcome (if a revolution happens) is even worse than the current state.

    1. Goat Jam


      "Not the kind of sociopath that murders people"

      That would be a psychopath, not a sociopath (antisocial personality disorder)


    2. Simpson

      buying cheap politicians

      I'd say that most politicians are sociopaths.

    3. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Sound Pertinent Advice

      "Are some businessmen sociopathic?" .... Shannon Jacobs Posted Tuesday 7th September 2010 23:00 GMT

      Only the most successful of them, Shannon Jacobs, which makes for a Crazy Magic Circle at the top of the tree/pyramid, where they will be dealing with sociopaths who are not interested in only business. And some would be quite revolutionary and bordering on the dark psychopathic and smart psychotic and as such would be a powerful ally one should never ever ever cross.

      1. Chris Miller

        @amanfromMars 1

        Worryingly insightful post!

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: Worryingly insightful post! .. Posted Wednesday 8th September 2010 12:33 GMT

          Such is the nature of what is available in present reality possibilities, Chris Miller. Hell, .... when the prime driver memes are deaf, dumb and blind and stupid to boot and hell bent on a lemming like rush to destruction, you can talk to the wall and get more sense from it. In such times as those, which can all too easily also be these, is it best to be real good, for when one is really so bad and mad, is it not gonna be good for one, when everything collapses and turns the impossible dream into dust.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    "Mark pioneered the integration of hardware with software"



    NCR's ATM's and POS terminals didn't have integrated hardware and software before Hurd "pioneered" them?

    From the tone of Oracle's statement it sounds like he might have done it all by himself.

    Wow, I didn't know I worked for such a brilliant man. I must be stupid just like our board to not have realized that this guy was f'ing Einstein and Edison all rolled into one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ "Mark pioneered the integration of hardware with software"

      And pretty much EVERY mainframe that ever existed!!

  3. Anonymous Coward


    Read that court filing

    "Despite being paid millions of dollars in cash, stock and stock options in exchange for Hurd's agreements to protect HP's trade secrets and confidential information..."

    I can barely hold back the vomit.

    This on a day where the axe has fallen on HP Enterprise Systems (ex-EDS, now there's a surprise) ITO according to a friend who works in Europe - they are looking at 25% job cuts he told me!

    You cannot make this up..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      All those millions

      ...and we don't even get to keep his soul? Maybe he didn't have one to sign over. His millions came at the expense of wage cuts to hundreds of thousands, and job cuts to tens of thousands.

      Reminds me of a bad horror flick: "How can you kill that which is already dead?"

  4. Anonymous Coward

    "convincing customers Oracle's in it for the long haul."

    Are you serious?

    Surely Hurd's known for *not* being in it for the long haul, but for cutting back till the patient is practically beyond recovery.

    He's a mate of Larry's though, which is obviously more important than his actual value to the business.

  5. Stumpy Silver badge

    Couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke...

    Gets popcorn, sits back and waits for the entertainment to unfold...

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Let the hardware acquisitions begin

    Hurd will immediately buy Brocade. It will be interesting though because Dell has already been talking to Brocade. I wonder if it will be another 3par except Oracle has even more money then HP.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Check that Court Filing boys and girls

    Exhibit D

    $12224693 pay off

    18 months Healthcare

    Section 9 - Pay off is Tax Free

    Anyone read the number of Shares correctly - it's a lot

    And still some people at HP say "oh, musn't complain"

    Get off your knees.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    hp sauce

    HP should take advice from Danny Dyer on this one, and cut Hurd's face so that nobody else wants him.

  9. JaitcH

    Treat an employee fairly and he'll most likely return the complement

    This is standard American bullshit litigation. HP can't have it both ways, especially since HO found there was no merit in the sexual allegations. As for expense accounts, senior executives often use them as personal slush funds usually with the acquiescence of the company.

    Did Hurd even complete his expenses or was it his recently retired assistant?

    A friend was sued in similar grounds a few years back by a large U.S. travel technology company. In his response, acting as his own lawyer, he listed all the knowledge he had with respect to the claim effectively nullifying the complaint - court matters being in the public domain - then the Plaintiff claimed 'abuse of privilege'. The case was later withdrawn..

    The HP board should read the companies founders principles of business and treat employees with respect.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Executives are not normal employees

      They are not paid like normal employees, the normal rules do not apply to them as they do to normal employees, so please do not pretend like they're just average employees.

      Please note that I'm not fan of this, nor advocating this as the proper way of things. Just stating how things work.

      Exhibit A: Any normal employee with improper expense reporting equivalent to Hurd's would be civilly sued if not pursued criminally for theft.

      Exhibit B: A Cxx at one of my smaller clients was pink slipped, sued, and won his "bonus" for the year in question. His bonus was almost as much as I make in a year.

      If Hurd didn't want to abide by the noncompete clause he should not have accepted the severence. HP can indeed have it both ways because of that 8-figure severence package they handed him. His kids aren't starving, he's not going ut on the street because he can't pay the mortgage.

      If there's a valid question here it's if the noncompete covers his new position at Oracle - I don't think it's a stretch to claim that. This will probably wind up with an agreement stipulating what areas in Oracle Hurd is allowed to work with.

      When HP hired the CEO-in-training from EMC a similar case was filed, he wasn't allowed to work with storage. I believe there was a similar spat between Google and Microsoft over a search exec a few years back. This is nothing new when dealing with execs.

      I'm no fan of how HP (and Hurd) treats their average employees, but please do not throw this guy into the same conversation. Like it or not, execs are different.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        What Non-compete

        No one is reporting that he is covered by a non-compete clause; the assertion here is that in order to completely preform his job at Oracle he would have to use confidential information he acquired at HP which he is not allowed to use according to his contract with them. The amount of compensation and other terms has nothing to do with the suit. The question is, can he maintain a separation between the two companies?

        I don't see a problem here. I've had to sight NDA's for well over a hundred firms and have been working with direct competitors and successfully maintained a separation between the two (although I did let each know, as is appropriate). I also have extremely classified knowledge even after all these years and per my agreement with the US government, I make no reference to it at all. So is he honorable with his agreements? I can't speak for him and I don't know his track record on that.

        He does have a track record that indicates that Larry would be an idiot not to grab him. He's a very bright guy and given his track record I'm not surprised that he stepped up the plate for another merger troubled firm. Rightly or wrongly, ethically, he''s got a record for pulling this kind of thing off.. Oracle wants to own the solution from hardware to the presentation layer and Hurd has been there, done that..

        Given the lack of a non-compete clause, this will almost certainly get shot down. All it will do is delay things for a few months as has happened in the past with other executives and large, grasping and jealous firms.

    2. Ancient Oracle funkie
      Paris Hilton

      ... personal slush funds usually ...

      Are you serious? I have to ask as I find myself responding to what appears to be a troll post.

      OK, let's assume you are. First off, slush funds are not supposed to exist. But in any case, they are usually used to win business for a company by greasing the palm of potential clients or government officials; or more commonly known as bribery.

      Here in HP we have ethics training explicitly informing us that we have MUST NOT do anything that might be construed as bribery.

      However, what Hurd appeared to be doing was fiddling his expenses to hide the fact that he was trying to bed the ex-soft porn actress (no sexual harassment as he'd paid her off). Not quite the same thing as bribery in an effort to win business. More petty fiddling.

      One wonders why Larry would employ a petty crook, unless he needs someone to wield an axe (note an axe not a chopper). And perhaps all US CEOs have lax moral standards; that's probably how they sleep at night.

      Oh, and don't go trying to blame anyone else. Are you suggesting that his "recently retired assistant" just made up these expenses? You don't think that he/she might have asked something like "What code do these expenses go against?".

      I do agree with your last comment "...treat employees with respect" But Hurd wasn't an employee. If he had been it would have been instant dismissal for gross misconduct and he'd have been escorted from the premises.

      Paris - because if you want to fiddle ...

    3. Fred Mbogo

      Treat employees fairly?

      I would like to live in your personal reality where this happens. So far my experience has been: employees are expendable meat that should be grateful to the Company for filling the existential void in their lives for 8 hours a day.

      If only we the BOFH was here...he would probably screw over Ellison and Hurd by releasing their supposedly private, unreleased sex tape.

      Here's to the mighty BOFH!

  10. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    A happy ending

    HP fired him because he single handedly destroyed HP last vestiges of engineering ability by driving out any remaining engineers.

    They came to their sense and fired him - now the HP board obviously feel such remorse over what they have done to the proud Hewlett Packard name that they want to protect Oracle from making the same mistake.

    That must be it.

    Unless of course there is a good reason you would want to stop somebody so incompetent going to your competitor ?

    1. alwarming
      Paris Hilton

      I Upped your post coz...

      I really liked your name!

      Paris, coz she likes being upp'd against a wall.

  11. David 141
    Thumb Down

    Sell HP

    That is all.

  12. Eddy Ito

    That's all folks

    HP has gone round the bend in its pursuit of... screwing Hurd. Ok, maybe he isn't the best guy walking the face of the earth but seriously to what ends will they go? Perhaps they just have a thing about cutting the head off their own snake or they really want a female at the top to blame when something goes sideways. Either way, the board has a way for picking people who really don't want the job and perhaps the shareholders should put in a vote of no confidence in the board at the next possible opportunity.

  13. Goat Jam
    Paris Hilton

    The IT Industry

    Where's the love?

  14. Chris Miller

    HP secrets

    What secrets would these be? The secret sauce that makes their toner so superior to their competitors? How EDS carry out such complete and error-free work implementing their clients' systems?

    There was a time when HP led true technological innovation, but this has not been the case for many years. And, as many have pointed out, it's not as though Hurd had the ability to understand such technological secrets, even if he knew any.

    1. alwarming
      Paris Hilton

      Re: HP secrets

      - vendor list & price points of computer components such as memory.

      - route to market strategy for new servers, services.

      - HP's least satisfied customer/partner list

      that's all my engineer brain can think of... probably Larry would really know which buttons to press.

      Paris,coz she doesn't have any dissatisfied partners.

  15. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Ah, the fun of it all!

    ".....Hurd would have substituted bluster for hands-on experience and opened doors by offerring customers soft-porn hostesses...." Sorry, had to be said! :D

    There's nothing as amusing as watching the captains of the IT industry acting like spoilt children! Ellison calls the hp board - supposedly Oracle's biggest partner in the enterprise arena - "idiots", and then complains when they do the professional thing and move to protect their secrets. Sorry, Larry, but you're beginning to look a wee bit unhinged, let alone unprofessional! Catz must be rubbing her hands in glee - she doesn't have to worry about Phillips now, and with Hurd looking like being Larry's albatross, she just could be sliding into Larry's job soon. All good fun, better than Dynasty!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      no pun intended, i suppose...

      " she just could be sliding into Larry's job soon"

    2. airmanchairman
      Thumb Down

      Infantile Analysis, Dude...

      Infantile analysis of a very tense and volatile situation, brought about by a very unwise "boardroom coup".

      Things were dicey enough for HP's server business when Oracle acquired a vertically integrated software + hardware giant like Sun Microsystems, what with Oracle database software running mainly on a variety of HP "big iron".

      But with the sacking of long-time Ellison pal Hurd who was a key player in the reversal of HP's sagging fortunes, Oracle's prompt hiring of the same man and now this temperature-raising lawsuit, I am starting to appreciate Ellison's comparison of Hurd's sacking with that of another long-term pal Steve Jobs from Apple in the mid-80s.

      Equally ill-timed and unwise? I think so: Hurd is just the kind of guy Oracle needs to turn around the hardware division of its recent acquisition. Nice move, HP.

      Worse still, the manner of Hurd's sacking is certain to fire the man up to succeed at the task of turning around Oracle-Sun's "big Iron" at the expense of HP. I'm sorry, Ellison's flowery language or no, this is not looking good for HP. More heads will roll, that's for sure, when the dust of this spat clears...

  16. Flossie

    Not guilty

    So they are suing him because he "might" give away secrets even though he has signed an NDA with HP. Unless Hurd actually gives away secrets, HP have no case.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Non-Compete Clause

      Chance are its not the NDA thats at issue - its almost certain that his contract prohibited working for a competitor for several months....

  17. Is it me?

    I find it hard to believe

    That any CEO knows any trade secrets about their companies, or for that matter their clients, and for that matter I can't see very many HP customers telling HP stuff that they wouldn't tell Oracle or IBM.

    There is also the rather bizarre view that CEO's don't need to know anything about the companies business to be successful, so if that holds for Mr. Hurd then what are HP worried about.

    CEO's have very little to do with the normal running of a business, they make fluffy decisions that float down. They certainly don't know anything about the latest technical designs, or product marketing strategies, and when they do, so does the rest of the world.

    Mind you he could be that rare beast, the CEO who really does no what's going on, but I doubt it, in a company the size of HP, there just aren't enough hours in the day.

  18. JohnG

    Sued for future breach of an agreement?

    Whatever this guy may or may not have done and regardless of his alleged ethics, greed, etc. - if I have understood this correctly, HP are suing him for something he has not done yet (but they believe he will do in the future). Additionally, they also want the court to arrange for someone to follow him about, spying on his every move, just in case he breaks an agreement with them. Seriously, WTF?

    1. airmanchairman
      Thumb Up

      Agree... and furthermore,

      those HP board members that followed this trivial sacking through after the initial charges of sexual harrassment were found to be untenable knew that they had "tipped their hand" and revealed to Hurd the identity of his enemies within HP.

      As such, they knew that if he survived the coup and retained power they were "dead men / women walking". Hence the trivial-seeming nature of the expenses "rap" that he was nailed with.

      Payout or no, this war is going to continue, and I don't see any fairy-tale "Steve Jobs rejoins a resurgent Apple" ending to this sorry saga. And by the way, my money's on more heads rolling at HP when the dust clears...

  19. Anonymous Coward

    It's good to be a man....

    @Matt Bryant

    "Catz must be rubbing her hands in glee - she doesn't have to worry about Phillips now, and with Hurd looking like being Larry's albatross, she just could be sliding into Larry's job soon"

    What are you smoking? Safra lacks a penis and, given that it's good to be a man who likes to screw soft-core porn actresses and play tennis with Larry, her chances of succeeding Larry are as close to zero as it gets. Why she sticks around after having to be a 'co-prez' is a mystery. Atta-boys all around.

    And I suspect that the only 'secret' Hurd has is how to slash about 50% of the old Sun budget by layoffs.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      RE: It's good to be a man....

      About a year ago I was gossipping with some other guys at a convention, and we got round to discussing who would take over at Oracle if Larry dropped dead. One comment that sticks in my mind was from a guy that worked for a very large and well-known Malaysian company, and he said that if Catz got the job then Oracle would never sell any more software in Malaysia simply because she was born in Israel! It seems that in some people's eye there are worse things than not having sensible plumbing.

  20. veskebjorn

    California state law makes HP case against Hurd weak

    California statutes and case law are rather more protective of job changers, even those who have signed non-compete agreements, than almost anywhere else in the United States. Other than the instances in which a person sells an enterprise and agrees to stay on as a well-paid consultant or manager for a fixed amount of time, California employees are unusually free to take up employment as they wish, prior agreements notwithstanding. Mr. Hurd will almost certainly be sittting behind an Oracle desk shortly, perhaps after the payment of a nominal (by Hurd's standards) sum to HP.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    HP: Invent

    Invent your expenses as an HP employee, get sacked without compensation.

    Invent your expenses as an HP exec, get tens of millions of dollars and a shiny new job with a competitor.

    Not much other inventing goes on in HP these days, even in whatever's left of HP Labs.


  22. Anonymous Coward

    Ellison is losing his mind

    Ellison says sacking a bastard makes HP board idiots.

    What that makes Ellison?

    Also a bastard: Those come along very well.

    "sociopath" if you want official label but bastard is more appropriate.

  23. kain preacher

    One slight problem

    Non compete clause are not valid in California.

  24. Anonymous Coward


    I think you'll find HP's lawsuit says Hurd knows which Sun accounts were being "most heavily mined" and which "HP accounts are the most valuable in the large enterprise space". So that's two of the issues HP is worried about. This makes rather more sense than the way it is reported in the article.

    David Donatelli was prevented from running HP's storage for a year after he left EMC by the decision of a California court. However, EMC had already obtained a similar ruling from a court in Massachusetts, so maybe that makes the difference.

  25. raindog


    Non-compete agreements are completely illegal in California, with a few very narrow exceptions (mostly concerning an owner's sale of his business) that do not apply here. HP had no option to get a noncompete from Hurd because the law says they're automatically void.

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