Oracle-SAP trial begins, Apotheker to testify

Role of former SAP chief CEO, now chief executive of HP, in question

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The real question surrounding the Oracle-SAP copyright infringement trial isn't how much SAP will owe the database giant, but what ingenious methods Hewlett Packard chief executive Leo Apotheker has been using to sneak into work since court proceedings began Monday in Oakland, Calif.

Or maybe he's been cowed into working from home, "far, far away from HP Headquarters," until the trial concludes.

If you recall, last week Oracle CEO Larry Ellison unleashed an unprovoked attack on Apotheker, who was chief executive of German-based SAP until February. Ellison hinted that if Apotheker showed up at HP's Palo Alto campus Monday for his first day as new CEO -- the same day the trial begins! -- he'd get dragged into court:

A few weeks ago I accused HP’s new CEO, Leo Apotheker, of overseeing an industrial espionage scheme centering on the repeated theft of massive amounts of Oracle’s software. A major portion of this theft occurred while Mr. Apotheker was CEO of SAP. HP’s Chairman, Ray Lane, immediately came to Mr. Apotheker’s defense by writing a letter stating, ‘Oracle has been litigating this case for years and has never offered any evidence that Mr. Apotheker was involved.’ Well, that’s what we are planning to do during the trial that starts next Monday.

Unless, Mr. Lane and the rest of the HP Board of Directors decide to keep their new CEO far, far away from HP Headquarters until that trial is over. If HP keeps Leo Apotheker far from HP headquarters we cannot subpoena him to testify at that trial.

If anyone knows whether Apotheker has been coming into work -- and whether he's in disguise -- drop me a line.

Update: Reuters now reports that Apotheker will testify.

Apotheker will testify amid the unfolding legal drama, though (Oracle attorney Geoffrey) Howard did not say whether Apotheker would appear live or by video.

Did they serve him with a subpoena? I haven't read anywhere else that they did. Did Apotheker just agree to testify? If so, why?

This is getting interesting. In the meantime, here's how the Wall Street Journal characterizes Tuesday's opening statements:

An Oracle Corp.

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