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Arista Wins Big in Ongoing Cisco Court Battle

Mitch Wagner
12/14/2016
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Arista scored a significant victory in its ongoing, sprawling court battle against Cisco on Wednesday, as a jury in a federal court in San Jose said Arista owes no damages over Cisco's claims of copyright infringement of its user interfaces.

The jury found Arista Networks Inc. infringes on Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)'s user interface, but it ruled against Cisco on "the narrow legal issue of 'scènes à faire,' " Cisco said in a statement.

Scènes à faire is a principle of copyright law that protects creators in "situations in which there is essentially no other way to express a particular idea except by using certain elements," according to intellectual property attorney Ivan Hoffman. He cites the example of a photographer who claimed two other photographers infringed his copyright on photos of a vodka bottle; the court basically ruled there aren't a lot of ways to photograph a vodka bottle. Wikipedia cites another example: "...a motion picture about the South Bronx would need to feature drunks, prostitutes, vermin, and derelict cars to be perceived as realistic..." (I'm sure the New York Chamber of Commerce loved that.)

Another example: Computer programmers often list variables at the beginning of the source code of a program, and some programming languages also require declaring the type of variable.

Cisco says, "We are reviewing the details of the ruling and determining Cisco's options for post-trial motions and appeal given the clear testimony that other suppliers use very different commands."

Cisco initially filed its patent and copyright lawsuit against Arista in December 2014. (See Cisco Slams Arista With Massive Patent & Copyright Suit.)


Find out more about key developments related to the systems and technologies deployed in data centers on Light Reading's Data Center Infrastructure Channel
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In separate but related decisions, the International Trade Commission ruled against Arista regarding three Cisco patents, and a judge at the ITC made a finding of infringement against Arista on Friday on two additional patents, Cisco notes.

Arista has been blocked from importing equipment as a result of the ITC decision, but it says it has implemented "design-arounds" to ensure compliance, and is ramping up US production. (See Arista Banned From Importing Products – Cisco and Arista Ready With 'Design-Arounds' Following Import Ban Recommendation.)

In a statement, Arista thanked the jury and judge for its work. "Today's verdict represents an important victory not only for Arista but for the entire industry," Marc Taxay, senior vice president and general counsel of Arista, said in the statement.

— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud

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