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Arista Switch Ban Stays in Place for Now

Scott Ferguson

Arista Networks sustained a legal setback this week as the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled to keep a ban in place that blocks the company from importing its networking switches to the US.

Earlier this month, Arista stopped importing certain network switches as part of three-year patent dispute with Cisco. The company announced it would comply with an order from the ITC, although it asked the commission to lift the ban as other appeals made their way through various courts. (See Arista Barred From Importing Switches to US.)

However, on July 20, the ITC decided to keep the ban in place for now.

"The Commission denies Arista's request for a shortened response time in light of the joint stipulation by the parties, and denies Arista's motion for leave to file a reply in support of its petitions," according to the ITC order, which is dated June 20, but was made public this week.

Of the six patents that are disputed with Cisco, the ITC ruled in May that Arista violated two of them, which set in motion the ban of certain networking switches. However, the company noted in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has invalidated all the disputed patents.

The PTAB is part of the US Patent and Trademark Office.

In a statement, an Arista spokesman noted that the company was disappointed in the latest setback, and that the ITC rules violated the spirit of the America Invents Act (AIA). The company also promised to modify its switches to meet the commission's final orders.

Marc Taxay, senior vice president and general counsel for Arista, wrote:

We are deeply disappointed in the ITC's decision to enforce patent claims that the USPTO has clearly found to be invalid. This represents an unfortunate departure from precedent and from the core premise of the AIA and its inter parties review proceedings. We will be filing an appeal to the Federal Circuit seeking an immediate stay of the remedial orders. In the event that the ITC's decision is sustained, we will also be releasing modified products to ensure the supply of our products to our customers in full compliance with the ITC's orders.

Arista has also posted a lengthy summary of its case on the company's website.

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Cisco and Arista have been fighting over patents since 2014, when Cisco first charged Arista had violated several of the ones it held.

Much of the dispute between the two companies stems from the time several Cisco executives moved to Arista after the company started, including Arista co-founder and board chairman Andy Bechtolsheim and CEO Jayshree Ullal. Cisco claims a number of technologies that Arista uses were originally created and designed at the company and these patents still belong to Cisco.

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— Scott Ferguson, Editor, Enterprise Cloud News. Follow him on Twitter @sferguson_LR.

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