Cisco kid sees setback in court

Cisco Kid Cisco’s US legal battles with its rival Arista have been suffering from a bad case of not being able to make much stick, at least for now.

A US federal judge has chucked out Cisco’s claims for indirect infringement against its rival Arista Networks that occurred prior to the filing of its patent infringement lawsuit in December, and also one of its wilful infringement claims.

For those who came in late, Cisco filed two lawsuits against Arista alleging the company infringed on a number of its patents and had stolen Cisco copyrighted material. Cisco claims Arista, whose CEO Jayshree Ullal was the former senior vice president of Cisco’s data centre switching business, took 12 “discrete and important” Cisco switching features covered by 14 different US patents to use in its own products.

It also claimed Arista took 500 of Cisco’s command-line expressions from its IOS network operating system to use in Arista’s own EOS software.

At the centre of the scrap was the fact that Arista, unveiled an enhanced EOS product line, EOS+, a version of the operating system with deeper programmability.

US District Judge Beth Freeman decided that the specific facts alleged by Cisco in its First Amended Complaint — which involve marketing made by Arista regarding EOS+ — were not sufficient to support a willfulness claim.

Allegations summarising Arista’s “puffery in sales and marketing” materials was not enough and Cisco had to claim that Arista’s conduct did more than continue selling the alleged infringing product, the judge said.

Because Cisco conceded it was not seeking damages for pre-suit indirect infringement, Judge Freeman directed it to clarify in its amended complaint that the damages it seeks in this regard are only for Arista’s conduct that allegedly occurred after the initial lawsuit.

However if Cisco’s revised claims do not impress the court the case will hardly be dead in the water, but it does weaken things a bit.