SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Arista Networks raided Cisco Systems to get 11 top execs, then "blatantly and extensively" copied Cisco networking technologies, including its operating system software, Cisco claims in a patent and copyright lawsuit.
In its Dec. 5 federal complaint, Cisco names 11 Arista executives, including its founders, president and CEO, chief development officer, chief technology officer and seven vice presidents, and claims they all went to Arista from Cisco.
By doing so, Cisco claims, Arista "avoid hiring the thousands of engineers and making the substantial investments that would otherwise have been needed to legitimately develop its own technologies."
The "widespread and flagrant" copyright violations include Cisco's operating system software, its Nexus Operating System and its operating system documentation, according to the lawsuit.
Of particular importance, Cisco claims, is Arista's "verbatim copying" of Cisco's Internetwork Operating System software, which allowed Arista to "replicate Cisco's widely acclaimed command-line interface (CLI)," which Cisco's customers use to communicate with, configure and manage Cisco products.
Cisco claims Arista engaged in "slavish copying" of Cisco technologies to compete unfairly, and that Arista "publicly touts that its copying of Cisco's CLI makes it easier for Cisco's customers to switch rapidly from Cisco's products to competing products sold by Arista."
Arista has told its customers that a primary benefit of using its products is that they are "just like Cisco's," the lawsuit states.
Cisco claims Arista's practices "significantly harm innovation" by taking shortcuts that "threaten the American economy and global innovation."
Cisco claims Arista violated 18 patents, which Cisco obtained from 2002 to 2103.
Arista told Courthouse News it has yet evaluated the claims in detail but will do so in the coming days.
"While we have respect for Cisco as a fierce competitor and the dominant player in the market, we are disappointed that they have to resort to litigation rather than simply compete with us in products," the company said.
Arista President and CEO Jayshree Ullal said: "I am disappointed at Cisco's tactics. It's not the Cisco I knew."
Arista specializes in cloud networking, according to the company website.
Cisco seeks declaratory relief and statutory damages for copyright infringement and patent infringement.
It is represented by Kathleen Sullivan, with Quinn Emmanuel of New York City and Sean Pak, with Quinn Emmanuel of San Francisco.
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