There's a CEO battle breaking out between Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) and Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) -- and it has nothing to do with Mark Hurd.

HP's new chief Leo Apotheker is at the center of the latest brouhaha. Oracle is in the process of suing SAP (NYSE: SAP) -- Apotheker's former stomping grounds -- for copyright infringement. SAP has already owned up to the misdeed, and the trial is now seeking to determine how much SAP has to pay Oracle.

The problem now is that Oracle wants to subpoena Apotheker to testify against SAP, but HP will have none of that. According to Oracle, HP is keeping Apotheker away from the company's headquarters so he'll be out of the court's jurisdiction.

Yes, Apotheker officially became CEO of HP Monday, but he's apparently nowhere to be found in the company's Palo Alto campus.

Who is right here? Does Oracle really need Apotheker's testimony to score some serious dough or is it just Larry Ellison's evil ploy to humiliate HP's latest hire.

Oracle and HP may be partners, but there's no love lost between the two tech giants.

Ellison was quick to defend Hurd when he was dismissed during this summer's sexually charged scandal. He went on to hire Hurd. HP threatened to sue, but ultimately backed down. The two parties seemed to make nice at the time, but why bury the hatchet when you have a clean kill you can go for? 

Oracle and HP have become Silicon Valley's serial acquirers, and the line between the two distinct companies is blurring. Oracle is moving into hardware with its Sun purchase, and HP wants to take on Oracle and IBM (NYSE: IBM) in the realm of enterprise services.

Whatever Oracle's intent, trying to corral Apotheker into the courtroom will only draw attention to HP's curious move to hire Apotheker in the first place.

Who needs The Housewives of Beverly Hills when The CEOs of Palo Alto is far more entertaining?

Editors note: An original version of this article erroneously said HP is suing SAP, when Oracle is the party engaged in the suit. The Fool regrets the error.

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