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Arista: We only violated two out of six patents that Cisco contested!

Cisco: Arista are villains with form and we will crush them beneath the weight of the law

The United States International Trade Commission last Friday has issued a new ruling (PDF) in the patent litigation between Cisco and Arista, finding that the latter company is in violation of two Switchzilla patents.

The two patents are U.S. Patent 6,377,577 (“Access Control List Processing In Hardware”) and U.S. Patent 7,224,668 (“Control Plane Security and Traffic Flow Management”).

Arista's statement on the matter is headlined “Arista Favored in ITC Initial Determination on Four out of Six Patents”, a glass-two-thirds-full view of the matter.

Cisco's official verbiage is headlined “Protecting Innovation: ITC Confirms Arista Products Violate Additional Cisco Patents.” Cisco notes that judges have now given it five verdicts over Arista, explains that the process of securing an import ban and cease-and-desist orders is now moving forward and points out that “Arista’s customers will need to bear the risk associated with any import ban and cease and desist orders.”

Cisco's general counsel Mark Chandler makes it plain that the company isn't going to let up in its pursuit of Arista, because:

“In my two decades at Cisco, we have initiated an action such as this against a competitor on only one other occasion. There is no question that Arista copied from Cisco. There is ample evidence and multiple admissions from Arista confirming they have done so.”

Arista's statement says it doesn't think the Administrative Law Judge's initial decision is right and that it will pursue a review of the decision. The company will nonetheless “fully address the infringement findings with design-arounds for its products.”

The company's also told us, through a spokesperson, that "Cisco has asserted the '577 and '668 patents against widely used networking technologies. The '577 patent, in particular, was asserted against technology integrated into merchant silicon chips that Arista purchases from third parties. Each of these patents is subject to inter partes review challenging their validity at the patent trial and appeal board."

Whatever the source of the problem, Arista clearly thinks it will need incontestable products sooner rather than later.

In any case, sooner is a few months away: Cisco's done the numbers on a fastest-possible signoff for a new import ban and come up with June 9th, 2017 as its best case scenario. But there's another Cisco vs. Arista action currently being heard in the Northern California District Court. In that matter, Cisco is seeking remedies for Arista allegedly pinching bits of its CLI syntax, manuals and even some parts of help text.

Argument in that case is scheduled to end on Monday. Based on last week's decisions, we can pretty much write the respective announcements on the decision.

Whatever the decision, Arista recently reported decent growth, meaning current import bans may not be biting hard. ®

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