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Cisco vs Arista

Last updated December 12, 2015 - 10:55am by Temitayo Oloyede (Tayo)

Cisco vs Arista

On December 5, 2014 Cisco filed a law suits against Arista for violation of intellectual property.  One of the components of the suit was a patent suit and another was a copy right infringement.  For the patent suit, Cisco claims Arista violated 14 Cisco patents for 12 features in the Arista EOS operating system. The copyright suit also claimed that out of Arista’s 1200 command line interface (CLI) commands, 500 were exact copies from Cisco commands.

Just to provide some background information into both organizations, Cisco was established in 1984 is the leading information technology company in the development and implementation of networking technologies. Arista was founded in 2004 and was launched in 2008 and focuses on software driven cloud networking solutions for large data storage environments. The interesting thing about this two companies is that Arista was created by former employees of Cisco. According the law suits, “Notably, Arista was founded by former Cisco employees who were intimately and directly familiar with Cisco’s patented networking technologies, including those protected by patents asserted in this action,” the suit states. “Two of Arista’s founders, Andreas Bechtolsheim and David Cheriton, developed patented technologies while at Cisco”.

Given the unique history of these two organizations, the patent suit appeared to be a tricky one right from the onset.  Part of Cisco’s law suit against Arista was also an indirect infringement case. The indirect infringement case was dismissed by a judge in July 2015. However, the patent and copyright infringement case still stand and is in proceedings.  The international trade commission (ITC) has determined that Arista infringed on 3 of Cisco’s patents.  On the other hand two of Cisco’s patent infringement claims have also been dismissed. Cisco has since refiled the complaints with some amendments.

The two organizations have been quite vocal about the issue. During Arista’s earnings call, Arista Vice president and general counsel marc Taxay was reported of have said “It appears to us at any rate that Cisco is behaving very much like a patent troll, which is pretty much what they've spent the last decade condemning”.

Going forward, the next trial is slated for November 2015 with findings set to be released in January and April of 2016. Interesting to see what the outcome will be.