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Oct 4 (Reuters) – Oracle Corp (NASDAQ: ORCL) chief executive Larry Ellison chided Hewlett-Packard’s board for hiring Leo Apotheker, who was at the helm of SAP AG when the German software company "confessed" to stealing Oracle’s intellectual property.

Apotheker was picked to replace Mark Hurd as chief executive of HP after the latter was forced out amid a scandal involving a female contractor. Oracle and SAP have also been embroiled in a contentious lawsuit dating back several years.

"SAP has already publicly confessed and accepted financial responsibility for systematically stealing Oracle’s intellectual property over a long period of time," Ellison told Reuters in an e-mail over the weekend.

"Much of this industrial espionage and intellectual property theft occurred while Leo was CEO of SAP." Ellison added. "The HP board must have been aware of these facts, yet they appointed Leo CEO of HP anyway. What happened to ‘the HP way.’"

HP declined to comment.

Ellison was an outspoken critic of HP after Hurd was ousted. Oracle subsequently hired Hurd as a co-president. HP then sued Hurd, saying that his employment by Oracle put the company’s trade secrets at risk. The case was settled last month.

Oracle software runs on server and storage hardware built by HP. The companies have more than 140,000 shared customers.

Oracle, which competes with SAP in the market for software that helps companies automate business functions, accused SAP of gaining unauthorized access to its password-protected customer support Web site.

Oracle said that access allowed SAP to copy thousands of Oracle software products and other confidential materials.

In August, SAP said it would accept liability for copyright infringement in the lawsuit. It conceded that "mistakes" were made by its TomorrowNow subsidiary.

The lawsuit is scheduled for trial in November. The two companies have not been able to reach agreement on compensation. Oracle has said it may seek more than $1 billion in damages.

Shares of HP were down 0.6 percent at $40.52 on the New York Stock Exchange, while shares of Oracle were down 0.6 percent at $27 on Nasdaq. The broader Nasdaq composite index was down 1.3 percent in Monday’s trading. (Reporting by Gabriel Madway; Editing by Derek Caney)