Data Center Infrastructure

Cisco Hits Setback in Arista Suit

Arista declined to comment on the judge's decision.

But Arista did respond today to an earlier statement by Cisco that a Supreme Court decision about Java APIs was good news for Cisco.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Oracle in a lawsuit against Google for copyright infringement. More specifically, the Supreme Court declined to review a decision in favor of Oracle in the Federal Circuit Court, which ruled that Oracle held the copyright on Java APIs that Google used.

The Supreme Court decision "effectively removed another argument that Arista could make to the Court," Cisco's Chandler said in a July 2 blog post. He noted that the decision only affects copyright claims; Cisco also has patent infringement allegations pending.

But the Google/Oracle decision and the Cisco suit are unrelated, says Kenneth Duda, Arista founder, CTO, and senior VP software engineering, in a blog post Wednesday. The Google/Oracle decision relates to APIs, while the Cisco lawsuit pertains to the command line interface.

"In the past few years, the tech industry has watched with increasing concern as various entrenched participants have brandished copyright law as a weapon to stifle competition and innovation," Duda says. "Recently, we have been treated to yet another novel claim: that after over a decade of broad adoption, the industry-standard set of commands that a user types into a command line interface (or CLI) to configure a network device is subject to copyright."

The technologies are unrelated, Duda says, spelling out the differences between them:

  • The "industry-standard command language" consists of "short English words or phrases typed by the user." Java APIs, on the other hand, consist of "Java source code declaring the API."
  • The end user uses the CLI, while a software developer uses the Java API.
  • The purpose of using the CLI is "operating the final product," while the purpose of using the Java API is software development.
  • And the method of using the CLI is "entering commands into a device," while the Java API is used by "creating code in an editor (typically on a different device than ultimately runs the library) using the API."

Duda is arguing that the CLIs for Arista devices are industry standard and open. Cisco argues that they're developed by Cisco and proprietary. That's the crux of the lawsuit.

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected]

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