Cisco Arista court case gets judgement

Cisco Arista court case gets judgement in favour of Cisco.  Quite an interesting spat going on in the big wide world of internet plumbing and routing at the moment. Cisco are suing Arista for patent infringement and have been given a judgement in their favour.

Now it seems to be the norm for big companies to go about suing each other these days: witness the long running Apple v Samsung saga, or Samsung v Apple – take your pick. This is no change to the status quo really. Many years ago when I was in the semiconductor business I once got a letter (yes letter) from AT&T or some similar long established telecoms giant saying that we were infringing a patent of theirs. We were using a CMOS process and they assumed that because of this we were using technology that they had patented.

They probably sent them out to every semiconductor manufacturer fishing for a response that they could grab hold of and drill deeper. I threw the letter in the bin and heard no more of it.

AT&T had a revenue generating department that specialised in doing this sort of thing – their patent portfolio was huge.

Nowadays the stakes are very high. Cisco are still market leaders (ref Gartner Magic Quadrant – Who’s Leading The Data Center Networking Market) but Arista are the fastest growing and together with Cisco hailed as leaders.

There are three reference points in respect of this court case:

  1. Cisco’s Mark Chandler (SVP, General Counsel and Secretary General Counsel) in a blog post on protecting innovation naturally takes the line that “copying and misappropriation are not a legitimate strategy”.
  2. Arista founder and CTO Kenneth Duda obviously has his own views here.His blog post entitled Protecting IP or Market Share?  is well worth a read.
  3. The third reference point, apart from the judgement itself is the online outcry from the internet engineering community. The feeling is that there is prior art that covers the meat of what Cisco are claiming as their own patented technology. There is also a sense that the patent authorities do not have sufficient expertise to vet a patent application and that we have to wait for expensive law suits to prove prior art.

Now there’s no way I’m going to get involved in this discussion (apart from the fact that I sort of already have here) other than to say that the only people who will do well out of this will be the lawyers – how much did that blog post cost Cisco? I doubt that it will make any difference to anything in the great scheme of things.

Note when we talk about data center market share we are talking about the core of the internet.

Published by Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of trefor.net, writer, poet, philosopherontap.com

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