Arista Networks Notches Victory In Patent Battle With Cisco


Arista Networks has notched a victory of sorts in its long-running, contentious legal battle to prove that it did not infringe on Cisco Systems patents.

The U.S. International Trade Commission Wednesday brought its so-called '945' investigation into Arista's alleged infringement on two Cisco patents to a close. The decision knocks down one of four claims Cisco has brought against Arista in a legal fight that has dragged on since late 2014.

Chris Becerra, president and CEO of Terrapin Systems, a Morgan Hill, Calif., solution provider that works with Arista, said that while Cisco's pursuit of patent claims against Arista didn't have a direct impact on the channel, it's been going on so long that customers have begun asking about it.

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"It's been going on for so long, and at the beginning, it didn't matter much," Becerra said. "But eventually, the customers started asking about it as it went on. Customers see it as Cisco trying to slow down a competitor. We certainly haven't lost any opportunities because of it. It's just cost Arista a lot of money fighting it."

The dispute dates back to December 2014, when Cisco filed several lawsuits alleging Arista infringed on multiple Cisco patents, including U.S. patents 6,377,577 and 7,224,668, which cover patents for access control list processing and control plane security and flow management.

In a separate investigation covering the so-called 944 patent, the ITC is looking into whether Arista infringes on a different set of Cisco patents. However, earlier this month, the commission determined Arista's redesigned products do not infringe on the Cisco patent.

Arista has in the meantime created new versions of products, including its EOS software, that have been redesigned to avoid potential infringement on Cisco patents. The ITC acknowledged the work-arounds in Wednesday's decision.

"Cisco has failed to show… that Arista's redesigned products infringe… or that Arista has indirectly infringed by contributing to or inducing infringement by its customers," the ITC said.

Still, a separate case Arista won was appealed by Cisco, and a judgement in that case could be forthcoming. Yet another case was delayed pending a the ITC's decision in the '945' case, and that could find its way back into prime time now that the 945 case has been resolved.

"This decision marks the successful conclusion of the 945 investigation for Arista," Arista said in a statement. "We thank the commission for recognizing our redesigns do not infringe the 577 patent and suspending the proceeding as to the invalidated 668 patent. We are also looking forward to the conclusion of the 944 investigation…"

Cisco said in a statement that its "goal from the beginning has been to stop what the ITC called Arista’s 'culture of copying' Cisco’s IP in its findings of infringement. The decision by the Commission regarding Arista’s redesign is another step towards that goal.’

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