HP’s Apotheker on the run from Larry Ellison’s bailiffs

Oracle has attempted to serve a subpoena on HP CEO Leo Apotheker but HP has refused to accept the billet doux.

That’s according to Oracle, which wants Herr Apotheker to attend a trial it’s conducting against SAP over copyright infringement.

This particular war between the two companies has been raging since Monday and was started to uncover how much SAP owes Oracle for copyright infringement by its discontinued TomorrowNow unit.

The matter at question in the trial between Oracle and SAP is how much SAP should pay Oracle for TomorrowNow’s actions, which included illegally downloading Oracle software and customer-support documents. SAP has accepted liability for, and admitted to contributing to, those actions. But the two sides differ sharply over how much SAP owes as a result. Oracle has said it is seeking $2 billion, while an SAP lawyer said on Tuesday it owes around $40 million.

Oracle’s latest statement is another way to try and implicate HP’s newly appointed chief—formerly SAP’s CEO—in the TomorrowNow affair.

And it’s firing all guns at this one. “Hewlett-Packard has refused to accept service of a subpoena requiring Mr. Apotheker to testify about his role in SAP’s illegal conduct,” the WSJ reported, following a prepared statement issued yesterday.

“Mr. Apotheker started work for HP on Monday, but it now appears that the HP board of directors has decided to keep him away from HP’s headquarters and outside the court’s jurisdiction.”

“We will continue to try to serve him,” she added.

However, HP wasn’t taking the claims lying down and fired back with a spokeswoman claiming: “Given Leo’s limited knowledge of and role in the matter, Oracle’s last-minute effort to require him to appear live at trial is no more than an effort to harass him and interfere with his duties and responsibilities as HP’s CEO.”

It however refused to out Mr. Apotheker’s whearabouts, who in early October said he would spend weeks, perhaps months, travelling the world to meet with HP employees, customers and shareholders – we take it he’s holed up in a cupboard at HP’s HQ then.

Oracle isn’t letting a little thing like Apotheker’s disappearance get in the way though with its lawyers claiming that the court will hear testimony from Mr. Apotheker, either in person or from a video deposition that was taken in 2008.

Oracle’s former co-president, Charles Phillips, who was recently named the CEO of software maker Infor, is scheduled to testify in person on Thursday, and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is scheduled to take the stand on Friday, an SAP spokesman said Wednesday.

Other previous and current SAP execs will also testify via video link or in person later this week.

However, this weeks shenanigans are not the first to of this long running saga that began in August when HP forced out its then-CEO Mark Hurd following an investigation into sexual harassment claims. That decision drew sharp public criticism from Mr. Ellison, who hired Mr. Hurd to be Oracle’s co-president the following month, prompting a lawsuit from HP that was later settled.

HP was obviously fired up and decided to stir the pot some more by appointing Apotheker as its next CEO and Mr. Lane its chairman, which of course started Oracle off again.