Arista slaps Cisco with countersuit in network hardware row

Not only did we not infringe, you're (allegedly) breaking the laws yourself, claims biz

Arista Networks has countersued Cisco, accusing the network giant of unfair competition practices.

On Monday, Arista submitted paperwork with the US Northern California District Court alleging that Cisco unfairly stifles competition by wielding copyright claims against rivals and coercing customers to only use Cisco hardware.

"Cisco attempted to limit competition in the Ethernet switch market by reversing a long-standing policy of encouraging industry standard usage of CLI commands, and instead claiming copyright over those commands after competitors and customers relied upon Cisco’s industry standard treatment for over a decade," Arista said in its filing.

"Cisco also imposed illegal penalties on customers who did not exclusively buy switches from Cisco."

The filings from Arista allege Cisco acted in violation of both the US Sherman Act and the California Unfair Labor Act. The claims will be heard in court on May 26.

Arista's submission come as a response to copyright and patent infringement claims Cisco has been pursuing against its rival since 2014. The networking goliath had accused Arista of infringing on its copyright as well as 12 of its patents related to the design and operation of networking hardware.

Now, Arista, says, those claims are not only untrue, but are being used by Cisco to bully challengers out of the market by claiming infringement of its command-line interface – a system Arista claims Cisco actively encouraged other vendors to use for years without any legal claims or threats.

"Yet after encouraging customers and competitors for years to use commands incorporated into Cisco’s IOS CLI — leading the industry to believe the commands were in the public domain — after facing a competitive threat from Arista, Cisco changed position," Arista claims.

"Cisco claimed copyright in those commands to attempt to use the settled expectations it had nurtured in the industry generally and particularly among customers as a barrier to competition with Cisco."

Cisco, on the other hand, said Arista's filing is "a smokescreen to divert attention from the important ruling expected from the International Trade Commission later this week." ®

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