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Protecting Innovation: Cisco Seeks Injunctive Relief at ITC

I blogged in an earlier posting about steps we are taking against Arista’s widespread and intentional use of Cisco’s cutting-edge and differentiating technology in their products. I want to provide an update about steps we’ve taken, as promised when we filed the initial action, to expedite what can be a long drawn out process.

Today, we have formally asked the US International Trade Commission for an injunction (in ITC parlance, an “exclusion order”) blocking Arista from importing and selling products that use Cisco’s patented technologies in the United States. The ITC is an independent agency with broad investigative responsibilities to protect innovators against importation of infringing products. As is typically the case with ITC actions, a consultative process with the ITC preceded these filings, a process we initiated when we filed our legal actions two weeks ago. Our ITC actions cover the same twelve patents we asserted in one of our district court cases. Our ITC actions are consistent with our commitment to do everything possible to expedite review of Arista’s illicit copying. The ITC generally acts more quickly than typically occurs in district court cases, which will help us in our efforts to obtain orders to stop Arista’s unlawful actions as quickly as possible.

One important point in both of these actions (the District Court filing, and now the ITC): our suit is only against Arista and not against any customer. Any suggestion that we will put our customers in the middle of this is not true. Arista’s customers are the victims of Arista’s infringement and copying.

We have no interest in making this a long, drawn out affair. We will move expeditiously to vindicate the principle that to succeed in technology, you need to innovate, not copy. That is why we filed our actions today in the ITC.

 

(Editor’s note: you can read complaint #1 here; complaint #2 is here)

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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)

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Cisco Announces Intent to Acquire Memoir Systems

Today, I am pleased to announce Cisco’s intent to acquire privately held Memoir Systems, a company that develops semiconductor memory intellectual property (IP) and tools that enable ASIC vendors to build programmable network switches with increasing speeds. This acquisition will enable the proliferation of affordable, fast memory for existing Cisco switch ASICs and will help advance Cisco’s ASIC innovations necessary to meet next-generation IT requirements.

Currently in the data center switching market, denser infrastructure and data-intensive workloads are driving demand for higher port density (feeds) and greater bitrates (speeds). At the same time, the accelerating growth of scale-out (non-virtualized) Big Data applications like Hadoop are driving increasing East-West data traffic – furthering the need for greater data center network density. Unfortunately, the physical memory in typical ASIC switch chips cannot cope with the design requirements for these more intense needs and as a result, can become the bottleneck that limits the density and performance of future data center switches.

To help solve the ASIC memory issue, Memoir currently licenses soft-logic IP, which speeds up memory access by up to 10 times. It also reduces the overall footprint this memory takes up in typical switch ASICs.  As a result, this technology allows the development of switch and router ASICs with speeds, feeds, and costs typically not possible with traditional physical memory design techniques. This differentiation is critically important as port densities and port speeds move from 10G to 40/100G.

The acquisition of Memoir Systems is expected to close in the first quarter of Cisco’s fiscal year 2015. The Memoir team will report into Cisco’s Insieme Business Unit, under Senior Vice President, Mario Mazzola.

I look forward to seeing Memoir’s technology used across Cisco’s future ASIC projects. Memoir’s technology and strong team will allow Cisco to continue to innovate at the chip level and advance our ASIC and overall networking strategies.

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Sensitive Data Exfiltration and the Insider

The Insider Lifecycle

Traditional security is designed to keep outsiders from getting in. What happens when the enemy is an insider? A new paradigm must be explored, where the focus needs to shift inward and how data is going outbound.

Identifying anomalies in data exfiltration is critical to how to spot the insider. The insider has a typical lifecycle:

1. Identify places where sensitive data is store
2. Retrieve the data from the location
3. Move the data within the organization to prepare for exfiltration
4. Transfer the data outside the organization

Arguably, the weak points of this chain of events occur in steps 1, 2, and 4, where the insider must go through funnel points—near the data and at a public outbound connection.

Things to Look For

In almost all cases of data theft, the insider had access to the data, but in many cases, the insider’s role would have been suspect when considering the data they were accessing. Consequently, role should be examined for the end user in the context of data they are accessing.

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Huawei and Cisco’s Source Code: Correcting the Record

Last week, I wrote about statements made by Charles Ding, Huawei’s Senior Vice President and Chief Representative in the U.S., Mr. Ding explained the 2003-2004 intellectual property litigation between Cisco and Huawei as follows: “Huawei provided our source code of our products to Cisco for review and the results were that there was not any infringement found and in the end Cisco withdrew the case . . . the source code of the issues was actually from a 3rd party partner that was already available and open on the internet.”

In my blog, I let Huawei and Mr. Ding know that Cisco would waive any confidentiality provisions from that litigation  so the world could learn what really happened and suggested they publish the expert’s report from the litigation.   Huawei and Mr. Ding have so far ignored my offer.  Under the agreement that resolved the litigation, we are entitled to act on our own, so we now do so.

Two things are clear about the Cisco – Huawei dispute:

  • The litigation was between two private companies, not between governments. It’s not about the US or China and we respect the efforts the Chinese government is making to increase intellectual property protection.  Rather, this dispute involved a very simple claim that one company used the other’s trade secrets and copyrighted materials without permission.
  • Unlike the smartphone patent battles, where parties try to protect and grow their market share by suing each other over broad patents where no direct copying is required, let alone even knowledge that a patent exists, this litigation involved allegations by Cisco of direct, verbatim copying of our source code, to say nothing of our command line interface, our help screens, our copyrighted manuals and other elements of our products.

The agreement that ended that lawsuit allows either party to make a reasonable response to improper or impermissible statements by the other.  Mr. Ding’s statements of two weeks ago indeed misstate the facts and therefore merit a direct, factually accurate and proportionate response. Rather than providing Cisco’s interpretation of the facts, we think it better simply to set forth the facts themselves.  To that end, the following are verbatim excerpts from the Neutral Expert’s Final Source Code Report, dated June 15, 2004:

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