HP v. Hurd as Complex, Despite NYT Nocera’s Op-Piece

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5 Responses

  1. Nancy says:

    Nice post. It seems, however, that Hurd would be less likely to disclose, and Oracle less likely to use, any trade secrets of HP given the high profile nature of all this. This situation differs from the Thomas English muffin case in that, from what I recall, the TEM executive stayed on at the company after accepting an offer at a competitor, didn’t tell anyone about his new job, took files and sat in on meetings. Hurd, on the other hand, was basically fired and left immediately.

  2. btraven says:

    Nice post, but are HP and Oracle competitors? If not, and I think that case could be made – after all, HP and Oracle are business partners and therefore have had a longstanding complimentary relationship, not a competitive one – then what is the reasonable basis to conclude that Hurd would be threatening to misappropriate?

  3. Lawrence Cunningham says:

    Joe Nocera sent me an email in response to this post. He said he is not a news reporter at the New York Times, but a columnist whose job is to present “reported opinion.” Accordingly, his piece doesn’t “violate the sacred–and it is sacred–precept of objectivity and news-presenting at The New York Times.”

    He noted that, in the paper, his “column is clearly labeled as a column, running down the left hand side of the business page (the usual spot for columns), with its own logo, Talking Business, and a ‘ragged right’ typeface to differentiate it from straight news stories.” He added that on the Web, the distinction isn’t made as clearly but it’s still clear.

    As a result, Mr. Nocera said the concern I mentioned in my post about opinion portrayed as news is unwarranted. I’m grateful for the clarification and regret not understanding Mr. Nocera’s role at the Times.

    Still valid are the points the paper’s Public Editor raised (linked in my post’s final paragraph) about how the Times goes about classifying the writing that appears in its news pages and distinguishing news from opinion. That’s not Joe Nocera’s burden, of course, but it remains a challenge for the paper’s editors.

  4. Lawrence Cunningham says:


    I concur with your factual distinctions between the English Muffin case and the HP case. An added factual distinction: the muffin executive, who was paid some $250,000 per year, signed the confidentiality agreement during the ordinary course of employment without any particular payment in return; the HP executive, who was paid many millions per year, signed the confidentiality agreement as part of the departure settlement that got him an additional multi-million dollar payment in exchange.

  5. Lawrence Cunningham says:


    Oracle and HP have been business partners in many ventures, a point Oracle’s long-time CEO has been pounding of late; but since Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems earlier this year, they are competitors. It’s not surprising that HP bought Hurd’s confidentiality and Oracle is buying Hurd’s knowledge.