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California's Sixth District Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected a request by Oracle to reverse a lower-court's 2012 ruling that a contract existed between HP and Oracle requiring ongoing support for HP servers running Intel's Itanium chip.
The Itanium imbroglio erupted in 2011 when Oracle unilaterally announced that it would no longer port its database or enterprise software -- applications like Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards -- to run on the Itanium chip, which is now used almost exclusively by HP. HP responded with a lawsuit and, in August, state judge James Kleinberg backed HP's claim that a 2010 contract with Oracle explicitly required mutual product support to continue.
In his decision, Kleinberg required Oracle to continue support for HP's servers and to pay damages for losses incurred -- an amount that has yet be determined by a jury. Oracle complied with the ruling by resuming updates of its software to run on HP's Itanium servers. But Oracle also filed an objection that said the ruling "imposes on Oracle an unprecedented obligation to support the dying Itanium technology," and it filed an appeal.
[ Want more on HP's latest Itanium servers? Read HP's New Integrity Servers Use Itanium 9500 Chips. ]
The Sixth District Court of Appeals late Thursday rejected Oracle's appeal "without explanation," according to Reuters. The decision is a victory for HP and for joint HP-Oracle customers that use Itanium servers -- particularly recent buyers who previously had little hope of leveraging their investments before choosing either new software or new servers. It means that new software including enterprise applications and Oracle's new 12c database, expected to be released within weeks, will continue to be ported to run on Itanium servers.
HP hasn't backed away from developing new servers to run on Itanium chips. In November, for example, it released the Integrity Superdome 2, a Unix server that HP claims processes transactions almost three times faster than the previous model.
Nonetheless, Oracle's support move and the high-profile legal battle that followed have taken a toll on HP's sales of Itanium servers. IBM and Oracle Sun both claim to be gaining share against HP, but this high-end Unix server market is itself a shrinking pie that is losing ground to increasingly powerful commodity X86 servers.
The ongoing legal battle between Oracle and HP and the matter of damages is now in the hands of the 6th Appellate District court, and Oracle must now wait until the trial is over before filing another appeal.