Oracle had unlawfully terminated support for Itanium family of processors, causing damage to Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) and its server business, according to a ruling made by a jury in a Santa Clara, California court.

The amount of damages Oracle has been ordered to pay to HPE has been set at $3 billion.

A spokesperson for Oracle told Reuters the company will attempt to appeal the verdict.

Intel Itanium sticker
Intel Itanium sticker – Wikimedia Commons

Contractual obligations

In 2011, Hewlett-Packard filed a lawsuit against its partner Oracle over the decision to stop supporting database software on Intel’s Itanium platform.

HP, a major manufacturer of Itanum-powered systems, believed that in doing so, Oracle was breaking the terms of its contract while trying to force customers onto its own family of processors called Sparc.

In its defence, Oracle said it was aware of Intel’s secret plans to kill off Itanium, so the switch would have happened anyway.

HPE said it was seeking compensation for lost profits, but repeatedly offered estimates which Oracle called unrealistic. Oracle also countersued, claiming that HPE failed to disclose the terms of its business relationship with Intel.

In the first phase of trial in 2012, Santa Clara Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg ruled that the former partners were indeed bound by a contract. Last week, the jury finally decided on the amount of damages.

Oracle will have to pay $3 billion unless it manages to appeal the decision. It will also have to continue supporting Itanium for as long as HPE makes servers based on the platform.

Oracle has been providing full software support for Itanium ever since the original ruling in 2012.

The decision follows another high profile case, in which Oracle attempted to claim $1 billion from Google in compensation for Java technology found in Android, which it claimed violated its copyright.

However in May, a jury found that the use of Java in Android could be classified as ‘fair use’ and no copyright violation had taken place. The ruling could still be appealed.