Cisco sues Arista Networks for patent infringement

Cisco said that rival Arista Networks has been copying its patents used in its current products as a strategy not an accident.

Cisco on Friday said it has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against rival Arista, which specializes in software defined networking and had revenue of $410 million for the nine months ended Sept. 30.

In a blog post, Cisco General Counsel Mark Chandler outlined the lawsuit, which alleges that Arista has repeatedly lifted the company's inventions and patents. Cisco said its intellectual property in part led to the Arista IPO in June.

Cisco's lawsuit revolves around 12 features that are covered by 14 patents. All of the patents are embedded into current products. Chandler also said that the Cisco patents were awarded to people who used to work at the company and are now execs at Arista.

The breakdown of patents are the following:

  • System Database ("SysDB") (Arista uses Cisco's networking device implementation covered by Cisco Patent No. 7,162,537)
  • Zero-Touch Provisioning ("ZTP") (Arista uses Cisco's implementation covered by Cisco Patent No. 7,290,164)
  • On Board Failure Logging ("OBFL") (Arista uses Cisco's implementation covered by Cisco Patent No.7,340,597)
  • Control Plane Policing ("CoPP") (Arista uses Cisco's implementation covered by Cisco Patent No. 7,224,668)
  • Spanning Tree Loop Guard(Arista uses Cisco's implementations covered by Cisco Patent Nos. 7,460,492 & 7,061,875 )
  • In-Service System Upgrades ("ISSU") (Arista uses Cisco's implementation described by Cisco Patent No. 8,356,296)
  • Virtual Port Channels ("vPC") (Arista uses Cisco's implementation covered by Cisco Patent No 8,051,211 )
  • Access Control Lists Improvements ("ACL") (Arista uses Cisco's implementation covered by Cisco Patent Nos. 7,023,853 & 6,377,577)
  • Private Virtual Local Area Networks ("Private VLANs") (Arista uses Cisco's implementation covered by Cisco Patent Nos. 6,741,592 & 7,200,145)
  • Generic Command Interface (Arista uses Cisco's implementation covered by Cisco Patent No. 7,047,526)
  • CLI Command Data Translation (Arista uses Cisco's implementation covered by Cisco Patent No. 7,953,886)

Cisco also alleges that Arista also lifted code. Chandler said:

Arista has copied more than 500 Cisco multi-word command expressions, while networking products from HP, Brocade, Alcatel-Lucent, Juniper Networks and Extreme each have only a small fraction of overlapping CLI commands. In the case of Juniper Junos, the overlap is less than 30 multi-word commands. These formidable competitors have innovated on their own, rather than copy, to create value and interoperability for their customers.

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