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Cisco Goes After Arista

Cisco Systems took out the legal guns on Friday (December 5), filing patent and copyright lawsuits against Arista Networks aimed at stopping alleged “repeated and pervasive copying of key inventions in Cisco products” by a smaller competitor that makes cloud networking and data center enterprise equipment and software.

Among the allegations, as explained in the blog post by Mark Chandler, Cisco SVP, general counsel and secretary and chief compliance officer, Arista is incorporating 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.” He also claimed that Arista “intentionally markets those features,” and that Arista’s actions could “embolden others to seek to do the same.”

Cisco’s suits center on allegations that Arista has deliberately included in its products about a dozen features covered by 14 different Cisco U.S. patents, including ones describing network-facing elments such as “Zero-Touch Provisioning” and “Virtual Port Channels,”

“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,” Chandler adds.

Regarding the copyright claim, Cisco alleges that Arista lifted entire sections of Cisco’s user manuals, including passages with grammatical errors, and implemented in Arista’s own documentation.

In response, Arista said it’s still evaluating the lawsuit. “While we have respect for Cisco as a fierce competitor and the dominant player in the market, we are disappointed that they have to resort to litigation rather than simply compete with us in products,” Arista said, according to a statement to Light Reading and other media outlets.

Jayshree Ullal, Arista’s CEO and a former CEO exec, also added this personal statement to the mix: "I am disappointed at Cisco's tactics. It’s not the Cisco I knew."

Cisco dwarfs Arista, which went public in June 2014 and pulled in third quarter revenues of $155.5 million, up 53% versus the year-ago quarter, alongside GAAP net income of $21.9 million, or 30 cents per share, up from $11.9 million, or 20 cents per share.

Shares in Arista closed down 7.19% ($5.29) to $68.24 each on Friday.