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Cisco elevates patent battle against Arista with ITC complaint

Cisco's lawsuit concerns 12 features covered by 14 patents - all of which are embedded within current products.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor on

The brewing legal war between Cisco and Arista gained momentum amid a battle of the blog posts on Friday.

Cisco initiated the latest round by petitioning the US International Trade Commission for an injunction to prohibit Arista from importing and selling products using Cisco-patented technology within the United States.

Cisco first filed its copyright infringement lawsuit at the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California - covering the geographical area where both Cisco and Arista are headquartered - earlier this month.

Mark Chandler, general counsel for Cisco, explained the networking giant filed an exclusion order with the ITC because it "generally acts more quickly than typically occurs in district court cases, which will help us in our efforts to obtain orders to stop Arista's unlawful actions as quickly as possible."

Cisco's lawsuit concerns 12 features covered by 14 patents - all of which are embedded within current products.

Chandler wrote when the lawsuit was filed at the beginning of December that the Cisco patents were awarded to people who used to work at the company and are now execs at Arista.

Arista was founded in 2004 with an official launch in 2008, led by president and CEO Jayshree Ullal. Ullal previously served as senior vice president of data center and switching at Cisco, reporting to CEO John Chambers.

Charlie Giancarlo, a current board member at Arista and former chief development officer at Cisco, retorted in a separate statement on Friday that "repeated accusations from Cisco blogs do not make them facts."

Giancarlo elaborated:

Beyond the lawsuit, Cisco goes much further in its public relations campaign (which it started even before it actually filed its suits against Arista). In its public statements it insinuates that Arista has actually taken technology from Cisco, clearly comparing Arista with Huawei of China. Let's be clear on this. At Arista we invented a new operating system and basically re-invented the switching market to become more software and merchant-silicon driven. We wouldn't want to copy Cisco's OS - our customers wanted a new architecture for how switches and computer networks are orchestrated and Cisco's 30 year old code and architectures are of no interest to us or our customers.

Chandler had written earlier on Friday to insist its suit is "only against Arista and not against any customer," insisting "any suggestion that we will put our customers in the middle of this is not true."

He concluded," We have no interest in making this a long, drawn out affair."

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