Reworked Arista kit going back on sale in America

US Customs OKs interface re-written software

Arista has been cleared by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to start shipping modified products to the United States again.

Arista sought the right to do so because of its long-running litigation with Cisco, which believes Arista has pinched its intellectual property.

The fight's been running since 2014 and some of Cisco's wins saw it secure a ban on Arista kit entering the USA. Arista therefore went to work writing new software for its switches so that they would not breach Cisco's patents and could therefore legally be imported to the USA.

This was crucial for the company as The Reg understands that Arista's supply chain often sees the USA used as a hub: products come from offshore factories to America and then to the rest of the world. Shutting down exports to the USA therefore had wider implications.

In November 2016, Arista received a ruling that cleared the products for sale but that sparked another complaint from Switchzilla and in January CBP 2017 revoked the ruling for further hearings.

After a hearing between the two parties, CBP is now siding with Arista and says the redesigned products no longer infringe Cisco's '592, '145 or '537 patents.

Arista notes in statement (PDF) litigation is continuing over an International Trade Commission action specific to the '537 patent. Cisco launched that action in August 2016.

Arista's also popped out a document (PDF) for its investors explaining the as-yet-unresolved litifation against Cisco.

That document is blunt, accusing Cisco of conducting its lawsuits because Arista's products represent a competitive threat. Arista does not believe Cisco has genuine IP grievances.

"The true motive of Cisco’s litigation campaign is made apparent by its assertion of the ’853 and ’577 patents," the document states. "Cisco asserts these patents against the use of ternary content addressable memories (TCAMs) to implement access control lists (ACLs)."

"This nearly-20-year-old technology is implemented the same way in virtually every network switch on the market and is built into the third-party merchant silicon used by Arista, Cisco, and several others."

"Despite claiming that it is engaged in a virtuous effort to protect its intellectual property, Cisco has never asserted these patents against any other network switch vendor, nor sought to stop the supply of this allegedly infringing technology by third-party silicon suppliers."

"And given that it applied for this patent in 1998, and the patent expires in June 2018, Cisco has had ample years to do so."

Ouch.

A ruling on that matter is due in June, 2017. ®

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