Arista 'Disappointed' Cisco Decided To Litigate Rather Than Compete

Arista Networks CFO Kelyn Brannon didn't sugar-coat her feelings for Cisco's recent lawsuit filings against her company at an investor event Monday, saying she was very "disappointed" in Cisco's actions.

"We always respected Cisco as a fierce competitor, but we are disappointed that Cisco did not reach out to us to try to discuss and resolve these issues and made the decision to litigate versus thinking about competing on the merits of our products and our technology and our customers," Brannon said at the Raymond James Systems, Semiconductors, Software and Supply Chain Conference in New York this week.

In two lawsuits, filed Friday, Cisco alleged that Arista has stolen 12 "discrete and important" Cisco switching features. Cisco said that the switching features, which are covered by 14 patents, were patented by former Cisco employees now at Arista or current Cisco employees who formerly worked with executives at Arista.

[Related: It's On: Cisco Accuses Arista Of 'Pervasive Copying' In New Lawsuit]

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On top of that, Cisco alleged that Arista copied "entire sections" of copyrighted user manuals, as well as more than 500 command-line expressions from its IOS network operating system.

Brannon said that Arista has always respected the intellectual property rights.

"I would like to say that, as we have intellectual property rights that we would want to have respected, we very much understand and want to protect the intellectual property rights of others, including our competitors," Brannon said.

At the time of the announcement, Arista CEO Jayshree Ullal, a former senior vice president of Cisco's data center switching business, expressed similar disappointment with the lawsuit.

"It's not the Cisco I knew," she said in a statement at the time.

Cisco declined to comment on Brannon's remarks beyond the Friday blog post from Cisco General Counsel Mark Chandler, where he outlined the allegations and emphasized Cisco's "serious consideration" before filing the lawsuit.

Brannon said that Arista was "very surprised" to receive the lawsuits from Cisco last week.

"It was certainly not expected," she said.

Brannon said that Arista is under way in planning a defense against the alleged claims, going through the complaints in detail and "moving forward with due diligence." However, she told investors at the event that the company's EOS operating system under question was written when the company was founded in 2004 on a "clean sheet of paper."

"As we think about our options, we are going to vigorously defend against these alleged claims by Cisco, and we're going to consider all options we walk through that," Brannon said.