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Protecting Innovation: ITC Confirms Arista Products Violate Additional Cisco Patents

- December 9, 2016 - 0 Comments

Cisco has won another important ruling from the ITC in our effort to stop Arista from using our intellectual property. In the Initial Determination for the second ITC investigation (known as ‘945), the judge confirmed that Arista has infringed another two Cisco patents covering critical core networking technology. That brings the total number of Cisco patents that Arista infringed to five.

The Judge’s ruling found:

  • violation of U.S. Patent 6,377,577 (“Access Control List Processing In Hardware”)
  • violation of U.S. Patent 7,224,668 (“Control Plane Security and Traffic Flow Management”)

These patented technologies are required to improve the operation of networking products, and to protect the control plane of a router or switch. These are core switch functionalities, and are included in Arista’s entire line of switches. Once again, Arista’s customers will need to bear the risk associated with any import ban and cease and desist orders.

As you might remember, on June 23, 2016, the ITC found that Arista infringes three patents in the ‘944 case. These cover Cisco’s private VLAN network security technology and Cisco’s proprietary core SysDB technology. As a result of the first ruling, an import ban and cease and desist order were put in place, and because Arista continued to sell despite these orders, the ITC began an enforcement investigation in September.

We understand that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has recently sent Arista a letter indicating that CBP considers Arista’s redesigned products outside the scope of the ITC’s Exclusion Order. The ITC is not bound by that decision and will issue its own decision in the Enforcement Action.  Unlike the CBP process, both Cisco and the ITC Staff can and are participating in the Enforcement Action.  And CBP acknowledges it will be bound by the ITC’s enforcement determination and will carry out any actions mandated by that decision.

Similar to the first ITC investigation, this ‘945 ruling is subject to full Commission Review which is expected to be complete by April 9, 2017. Presidential review takes an additional 60 days, and if a new import ban is implemented, we would expect it to begin on June 9, 2017.

Arista has stockpiled products and components since the first ITC ruling, and has indicated it will soon be using local manufacturing facilities. But it is worth noting the Commission has the authority to enjoin local manufacturing of infringing products made with unlawfully imported components. Local manufacturing using unlawfully imported components is not a legal workaround, it’s still willful infringement and deliberately violates the Commission’s exclusion and cease and desist orders.

Additionally, we are in the Northern California District Court this week presenting our case to a jury about Arista’s copyright infringement of Cisco’s User Interface, including our multi-word commands for our Command Line Interface, output screens, help descriptions, as well as our user manuals. Our case further includes infringement of a separate, valid Cisco patent, which relates to Cisco’s innovative command line interface technology. The case is expected to conclude by Monday, December 12, 2016, with a jury verdict shortly thereafter.

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. Our goal has always been to protect technological innovation, and stop Arista from using our patented technology. We have made substantial investments in our technology and product development to build great products. We have a legal right and an ethical obligation to our employees, customers and shareholders to protect that innovation.

We welcome fair competition, but “slavishly copying” (Arista’s words) is neither fair nor innovative. It causes harm to innovation across the industry. And the implications only intensify for their investors, customers, partners and suppliers.

We thank Judge McNamara and the ITC staff for their diligence and review of the evidence.

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