Cisco has scored a victory over a major rival: Arista's products are banned from entering the US (CSCO, ANET)

July 6, 2017

Arista CEO Jayshree Ullal (Arista)


Cisco has scored a blow in its ongoing legal battles with Arista.

Arista revealed on Wednesday that the US International Trade Commission has banned the networking company from bringing its flagship products into the US from its overseas manufacturers.

The ban follows the ITC's ruling in May that Arista had infringed on two of Cisco's patents. The ITC announced the ban then, but said it would take effect only after a 60-day review period. That period ended Wednesday.


Arista has been working to get the US Patent Office to overturn Cisco's patents, with some success. It is hoping to convince the ITC to suspend its ban until the Patent Office issues a final ruling, which it hopes will kill the patents in question.

"We are still awaiting the International Trade Commission’s decision on our motion to suspend its remedial orders, which are based on patent claims that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board has found invalid," an Arista spokesperson said.


So the ban may last only a few days if Arista can convince the ITC to put it on hold. Or the ban may last until Arista alters its products to not use the disputed technology and gets the ITC on board with allowing them in the country again. Arista has indicated that it has developed some workarounds, including working with US manufacturers, that could allow it to resume selling its products.


Meanwhile, Cisco's lawyer Mark Chandler explained his company's ultimate goal in a blog post about Wednesday's news:

"The right solution, as we’ve emphasized from the beginning, is for Arista to stop using technology they copied from Cisco."


There's a long and heated history between the two companies. Cisco originally sued Arista back in 2014 alleging that Arist had infringed its copyrights and patents and seeking $335 million in damages. Cisco also filed a complaint against Arista with the International Trade Commission, which has the power to ban patent-infringing products from being imported into the US.


Cisco lost a jury verdict in its lawsuit in December.

But the tensions between the companies has extended far beyond the legal sphere. Arista employs a lot of former Cisco engineering stars. Cofounder Andy Bechtolsheim and CEO Jayshree Ullal both formerly worked at Cisco. And one of the patents Cisco is suing over was invented by Bechtolsheim while he was an exec at Cisco, Cisco's lawyer said.

The two companies have also been in a fierce battle over market share, with Arista gaining some and Cisco, the giant in the industry, losing some.

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