Arista violated 3 Cisco patents: ITC

Rival plans workarounds in Q2 to keep switches on the market

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The International Trade Commission has made an initial determination that Arista Networks infringed on three Cisco patents in its switches, the latest development in a 13-month-old suit.

The ITC said Arista violated patents associated with a central database for managing configuration data (SysDB) and private VLANs. As part of its 2014 suit alleging patent and copyright infringement, Cisco sought an injunction on Arista product from the ITC.

“This notice marks the beginning of the end for Arista’s systemic copying of our intellectual property,” states Cisco Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mark Chandler in this blog post.

+MORE ON NETWORK WORLD: Suing Arista was always the plan+

“Arista can no longer support claims to customers, resellers, and the market that they created products from ‘a clean sheet of paper.’ The patents in question go to the core of Arista’s products.”

Those products include SysDB, the central configuration database that is the foundation of Arista’s EOS operating system. SysDB was a central component of another suit against Arista by co-founder David Cheriton and his company, OptumSoft.

Private VLANs are a way to isolate, segment and secure traffic in an Ethernet network.

“None of the patents have been proposed for or adopted as industry standards,” Chandler states. “And all patents we asserted against Arista were invented either by Cisco employees who became Arista executives, or by engineers who worked for Arista executives when employed at Cisco.”

Arista begs to differ and plans to continue offering products to customers.

“Arista respects the ITC process,” the company said in a statement. “We strongly believe we did NOT infringe on any of the patents.”

Nonetheless, Arista plans to release software workarounds in the second quarter.

As for the impact of the rulings, Arista said the SysDB patent is not for core architecture but for initialization, or “external management.” Arista says Cisco submitted the Private VLANs specification to the IETF as an informational RFC but sued anyway.

Arista countersued Cisco two weeks ago for this practice, claiming it amounted to unfair competition.

The ITC’s final determination on the three patents will come in the second quarter. They were included in a group of five patents at issue but the ITC determined Arista did not violate the other two.

There is a separate ITC case that involves six other patents Cisco claims Arista is infringing upon.

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