Cisco Blogs

Cisco Blog > The Platform

A Grammy-Class Outcome to the Rockstar Patents

Today’s definitive agreement for purchase of the Rockstar patents by a subsidiary of patent clearinghouse RPX Corporation, with simultaneous licensing of the portfolio to more than 30 technology companies, including Cisco, represents a victory for common sense. It also puts to rest a wayward and misguided business model that threatened to add costs to industry and consumers with no benefits to innovation or economic development.  This step should also send a strong message to companies who toy with the idea of “monetizing” their patent portfolios through transactions with private equity and non-practicing-entities, or by shaking down other industry participants: They will find themselves isolated. In short, they will end up as net losers if they initiate a game based on short-sighted greed.

We’re taking a different approach. Working with RPX, we devised a licensing model where even those who chose not to join with more than thirty of their peers in this purchase will still have the chance to license on comparable and fair terms.  Kent Walker, the general counsel of Google, was instrumental in pulling this together. Brad Smith and Bruce Sewell, the general counsels of Microsoft and Apple, deserve huge credit for working with the other Rockstar members – Blackberry, Ericsson and Sony – to reach a consensus that produced this positive result.

The origins of “Rockstar” are found in the smartphone patent wars that began several years ago. While we have no quarrel with companies using their patents to stop the copying of differentiating features without permission (and in fact commented favorably on the direct Apple-Samsung litigation), the driving up of patent valuations as each side in the war sought to bulk up for battle ended up serving no one other than lawyers and middlemen. Rockstar’s litigation strategy turned out to be inconclusive, keeping many lawyers very busy but with little money changing hands to date.

Read More »

Tags: , , , ,

Protecting Innovation

In the thirteen years I’ve been General Counsel of Cisco, I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve initiated suit against a competitor, supplier or customer.

It’s therefore only after thoughtful and serious consideration that we are today filing two lawsuits to stop Arista’s repeated and pervasive copying of key inventions in Cisco products. These suits cover key Cisco proprietary patented features and Cisco’s copyrighted materials.

(The patent lawsuit can be viewed here. The copyright lawsuit can be viewed here.)

Cisco’s $6 billion annual R&D expense, supported by over 25,000 engineers, has a proven track record of bringing innovation to our customers and partners around the world. Our success is built on using our innovation engine to lead in the marketplace. Our action today is based on the principle that to compete in technology, you need to innovate, not copy.

We have taken this action only after assuring ourselves of four key facts – all of which form the basis for legitimate intellectual property actions between competitors:

  • Arista incorporates features knowing that Cisco holds intellectual property rights related to those features, all of which are Cisco proprietary and none of which are industry standards
  • Arista intentionally markets those features to its customers as a basis for buying the products
  • Arista promotes its copying to convince investors to finance the company
  • Arista’s actions, if unstopped, will embolden others to seek to do the same

Patented Featured Copied

The heart of our action regards Arista’s deliberate inclusion in its products of 12 discrete and important Cisco features covered by 14 different U.S. patents. All of these features are being used by Cisco currently and in products we ship to our customers. None of the implementations are incorporated in industry standards. They were patented by individuals who worked for Cisco and are now at Arista, or who at Cisco worked with executives who are now at Arista. These Cisco-created features and implementations are incorporated by Arista in their entirety into Arista’s products.

  • System Database (“SysDB”) (Arista uses Cisco’s networking device implementation covered by Cisco Patent No. 7,162,537)
  • Zero-Touch Provisioning (“ZTP”) (Arista uses Cisco’s implementation covered by Cisco Patent No. 7,290,164)
  • On Board Failure Logging (“OBFL”) (Arista uses Cisco’s implementation covered by Cisco Patent No.7,340,597)
  • Control Plane Policing (“CoPP”) (Arista uses Cisco’s implementation covered by Cisco Patent No. 7,224,668)
  • Spanning Tree Loop Guard(Arista uses Cisco’s implementations covered by Cisco Patent Nos. 7,460,492 & 7,061,875 )
  • In-Service System Upgrades (“ISSU”) (Arista uses Cisco’s implementation described by Cisco Patent No. 8,356,296)
  • Virtual Port Channels (“vPC”) (Arista uses Cisco’s implementation covered by Cisco Patent No 8,051,211)
  • Access Control ListsImprovements (“ACL”) (Arista uses Cisco’s implementation covered by Cisco Patent Nos. 7,023,853 & 6,377,577)
  • Private Virtual Local Area Networks (“Private VLANs”) (Arista uses Cisco’s implementation covered by Cisco Patent Nos. 6,741,592 & 7,200,145)
  • Generic Command Interface (Arista uses Cisco’s implementation covered by Cisco Patent No. 7,047,526)
  • CLI Command Data Translation (Arista uses Cisco’s implementation covered by Cisco Patent No. 7,953,886)

Read More »

Tags: , ,

Accelerating and Innovating the Internet of Everything in Japan

After a whirlwind week in Tokyo, it’s clear that Japan – the world’s third largest economy — is embracing the potential economic value of the Internet of Everything (IoE). For Japan, we estimate an IoE opportunity of $870 million over the next decade (out of a global economic value of $19 trillion).

With its proud history of industry, technology and innovation leadership, Japan is an ideal location for Cisco’s 7th IoE Center of Innovation — a $20million investment for Cisco — which opened last Thursday with nine Japan-based ecosystem partners. The excitement is high around our open lab’s charter to bring together customers, industry partners, startups, accelerators, government agencies and research communities to collaborate on next-generation technology. Photos of the center’s opening are here.

Wim Tokyo 1

In Tokyo, we will be working with partners to develop Fog Computing solutions focused on Manufacturing, Sports and Entertainment and Public Sector. These Fog solutions extend cloud storage, computing and services to the edge of the network, a critical element of realizing value from IoE.

Read More »

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Developing Products and Solutions in the 21st Century

On November 3rd, 2014 at the Software Defined Network-Multiprotocol label Switching SDN-MPLS (Software Defined Networking-Multiprotocol Label Switching) Conference in Washington D.C: I moderated a stellar panel titled, “Developing Products and Services in the 21st Century.”

Quite a few of the attendees represented Service Providers; with a few attendees from the Public Sector and vendor communities.

In framing up the discussion, I had proposed the following provocative abstract:

Read More »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Accelerating open innovation on all fronts at Cisco

I introduced Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (Cisco EIR) earlier this year as a cornerstone in our strategy of embracing open innovation at Cisco. I also shared how we were extending Cisco EIR and open innovation across the US through local incubation partners, and I announced the launch of Cisco EIR in Europe. Now I would like to share updates on the great progress we are making with Cisco EIR as a catalyst of open innovation at Cisco.

Startups Selected to Join Cisco EIR in Europe

Last week we were excited to announce the six startups that will be joining our Cisco EIR program in Europe at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna. The six winners – innovating in the areas of Smart Cities, Internet of Everything (IoE)/cloud and Big Data/analytics – were chosen through a rigorous multiphase selection process conducted in collaboration with Pioneers. More than 350 applicants from 39 countries applied to join Cisco EIR Europe, with 15 finalists pitching live at the Pioneers Festival in front of Cisco experts and our European partners. Winners were selected based on the viability of their business plans, the strength of their teams and their alignment with Cisco’s IoE vision and strategy.

We were impressed beyond our expectations by the vision, passion, talent and technology of all 15 finalists. These startups made us more excited and convinced than ever that Europe was the right platform to discover and nurture the next generation of disruptive ideas for our industry and for Cisco.

Read More »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,