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Ex-HP Executive Sued by Former Employer Says Evidence False

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July 28 (Bloomberg) -- The lawyer of an ex-Hewlett-Packard Co. sales executive, who was accused by his former employer of stealing secret information, filed a letter in court saying the evidence used against his client was “false and fabricated.”

Adrian Jones, who left Hewlett-Packard to join rival Oracle Corp. in February, was accused of downloading company information on Feb. 10 or Feb. 11 to an external hard drive. In the letter, filed June 10 in California state court, Jones said the drive was used by Hewlett-Packard to do a backup and was never in his possession. Hewlett-Packard and its outside lawyers have confirmed these facts, according to the letter.

The suit has escalated tensions between Hewlett-Packard and Oracle, which are increasingly competing in the market for server computers. The schism between the companies began after Hewlett-Packard ousted Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd in August 2010, saying he had tried to cover up a relationship with a marketing contractor. Hurd, a friend of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, later joined Oracle as a co-president.

“The central allegation in HP’s employment lawsuit against Adrian Jones has turned out to be complete fiction,” said Deborah Hellinger, a spokeswoman for Redwood City, California-based Oracle. “If they did it knowingly then HP and their lawyers should be sanctioned. If they did it mistakenly then they simply owe Mr. Jones an apology.”

HP’s Response

Hewlett-Packard said today that Jones did store secret company information, even if it wasn’t on that hard drive. He returned other devices with sensitive files to the company, said Michael Thacker, a spokesman for Palo Alto, California-based Hewlett-Packard.

“Regardless of the device, Adrian Jones said he had no confidential information,” Thacker said. “But he did, and he had returned it.”

Jones worked at Hewlett-Packard as a senior vice president in its enterprise hardware group based in Tokyo, where he oversaw the unit’s sales in Asia. He began seeking a job outside Hewlett-Packard in the fall of 2010, according to the letter.

In December, the company began a probe of Jones. Hewlett-Packard said its investigation found he failed to disclose a close personal relationship with a subordinate, arranged a pay raise of about 97 percent for her, and expensed travel to Australia to see her with no legitimate business purpose.

Hewlett-Packard asked for Jones’s additional computers, including his home computer in Tokyo, an iPhone and his girlfriend’s iPad, according to the letter. Jones received the job offer from Oracle Feb. 13.

‘Bitter Antagonist’

In June, Hewlett-Packard filed a separate lawsuit against Oracle, claiming that the company went from partner to “bitter antagonist” and had breached its contract.

The lawsuit, filed June 15 in state court in San Jose, California, cited Oracle’s hiring of Hurd and Oracle’s March announcement that it would cease software development for Hewlett-Packard servers that use Intel Corp.’s Itanium chip. Oracle also has used “strong-arm tactics” in forcing customers to “shift from HP’s Itanium server hardware to Oracle’s own server hardware,” the suit said.

That suit, which also cites libel claims, followed Hewlett-Packard’s June 8 letter to Oracle demanding that the software maker keep supporting the Intel chip, reiterating its concern that the move will hurt customers and trammel competition.

Oracle’s shares fell 5 cents to $30.67 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. Hewlett-Packard declined 57 cents to $36.23 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The case is Hewlett-Packard Co. v. Jones, 1-11-cv-198103, California Superior Court, Santa Clara County.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aaron Ricadela in San Francisco at aricadela@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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