In Cisco tiff, Arista taps Gandhi

Compares its legal battle to that of legendary nonviolent civil disobeyer

In the ongoing back and forth between rivals Cisco and Arista Networks, Cisco took its injunction case against Arista to the US International Trade Commission in an effort to block Arista from importing and selling products in the United States that allegedly infringe on Cisco’s patents. This is an attempt to expedite the injunction of Arista product while Cisco patent and copyright infringement suits against the company wind their way through the court.

Cisco's latest action inspired Arista to tap its inner Gandhi in a post from company director and former Cisco executive Charlie Giancarlo:

“First they ignore you,

Then they laugh at you,

Then they fight you,

Then you win.”

Giancarlo says the two companies have entered the fight stage so there’s one more to go. Giancarlo was a 15-year Cisco veteran and served as Chief Development Officer overseeing 24,000 engineers developing the technologies that may be at issue in Cisco’s suits.

Cisco has compared Arista to Huawei, the Chinese titan Cisco sued 11 years ago for copying its source code. Giancarlo, who was the Cisco executive in charge of initiating and pursuing the lawsuit against Huawei, says the comparison is absurd:

Let’s be clear on this. At Arista we invented a new operating system and basically re-invented the switching market to become more software and merchant-silicon driven. We wouldn’t want to copy Cisco’s OS – our customers wanted a new architecture for how switches and computer networks are orchestrated and Cisco’s 30 year old code and architectures are of no interest to us or our customers.

He says Arista’s EOS operating system source code was developed internally from a clean slate. He also says the command line interface Cisco accuses Arista of violating is a “very common industry interface” for human interaction with switching and routing equipment:

Arista is not the first to use this CLI, nor the last.

Before launching into Gandhi, Giancarlo concludes that Cisco’s action against Arista is more personal than protective:

Regrettably, Cisco appears to have a special antipathy for former Cisco executives who have left the “family” but continue to be successful and innovate in the industry.

Indeed, with each volley, that appears more and more to be the case.

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