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(Reuters)—Lawyers for Hewlett-Packard Co. and Oracle Corp. will face off in court today for opening statements in a bitter lawsuit over Oracle's decision to end support for HP's Itanium-based servers.
The trial, in which HP seeks up to $4 billion in damages, comes just days after Oracle lost a separate high stakes case against Google over smartphone technology.
Top personalities from Oracle and HP—such as Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison, President Mark Hurd and HP board member Ann Livermore—could take the stand.
Intel Corp. is not a party in the lawsuit, though its CEO Paul Otellini might also testify.
Oracle decided to stop developing software for use with Itanium last year, saying Intel made it clear that the chip was nearing the end of its life and that Intel was shifting its focus to its x86 microprocessor.
But HP argues that Oracle and HP had agreed that support for Itanium would continue, without which the HP equipment using the chip would become obsolete.
HP said that commitment was affirmed when it settled an earlier lawsuit over Oracle's hiring of former HP Chief Executive Mark Hurd. HP sued Oracle in California state court last year, calling Oracle's recruitment of Mr. Hurd "anti-customer."
Oracle says HP's claims "cannot support" its damages estimate, and has countersued HP for false advertising, asserting that HP failed to disclose the terms of its contract with Intel.
Instead of a jury, Santa Clara Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg will decide the first phase of the trial—namely whether there is a contract between HP and Oracle, and its terms, said HP spokesman Michael Thacker.
If Kleinberg decides in HP's favor, then a jury will decide whether Oracle violated the contract, and damages, Thacker said.
In court last month, Kleinberg compared the case to a divorce, saying "this case appears to be the end of a marriage" between the technology giants.