Cisco Claim Against Arista Is on the Ropes

           SAN JOSE (CN) – A federal judge partially dismissed Cisco Systems’ patent and copyright lawsuit against Arista Networks.
     Cisco sued Arista in December 2014, claiming that after Arista raided it to get 11 top executives, it “ blatantly and extensively ” copied Cisco’s networking technologies and operating system software.
     Cisco also sued 11 Arista executives, including its founders, president and CEO, chief development officer, chief technology officer and seven vice presidents, all of whom, it claims, jumped from Cisco to Arista.
     The exodus allowed Arista to “avoid hiring the thousands of engineers and making the substantial investments that would otherwise have been needed to legitimately develop its own technologies,” Cisco said in the lawsuit.
     It claimed the “widespread and flagrant” copyright violations included Cisco’s operating system software, its Nexus Operating System and its operating system documentation.
     U.S. Federal Judge Beth Labson Freeman heard arguments on July 2.
     She let stand Cisco’s claims for patent and copyright infringement that allegedly took place after it filed the original complaint.
     She dismissed the pre-suit indirect infringement claims, since Cisco conceded that it is not seeking damages for those claims.
     Freeman’s 3-page order states that Cisco “failed to allege sufficient facts to meet its own ‘bright line’ test.”
     The judge wrote in a footnote that the bright-line test applied to software “is made difficult by the seeming blurry line that separates a ‘new’ product from a new ‘version’ of an old product, or just an update to address ‘bugs’ in the current version of the accused patent.”
     She gave Cisco until July 23 to amend its complaint on the post-suit allegations.
     “At this stage, however, allegations summarizing Arista’s puffery in sales and marketing materials is not enough,” Labson wrote.
     Cisco’s general counsel Mark Chandler praised the ruling.
     “Judge Freeman’s order giving us the opportunity to amend our complaint is exactly what we expected after last week’s hearing,” Chandler wrote in an email. “Arista is left in the strange position of arguing in court that their claims that the EOS+ product is ‘pioneering,’ were actually just ‘marketing puffery,’ as the judge put it. They introduced EOS+ even after they knew of our allegations that they had used our patented technologies, so there can be no doubt that their action was willful.
     “Having owned up to that, maybe they will decide to step forward and admit their patent infringement. The patent infringement claims are unaffected by the judge’s order.”
     Arista is represented by Juanita Brooks, with Fish & Richardson in San Diego.

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