Arista cats escape US quarantine, for now: Customs says it's OK to import networking gear

EOS 4.16 and later isn't infringing Cisco patents, according to officials

Arista says US Customs officials will wave in shipments of its latest-generation kit after deciding that the gear does not infringe Cisco's patents.

Earlier this year, Cisco landed an import ban on Arista gear because it ripped off its intellectual property. Arista rejigged some of its software to avoid infringing Cisco's designs and thus avoid the import ban. Now US Customs says its OK to bring Arista's products into the States, we're told.

The news is tucked away in an 8-K form submitted on Friday to America's financial watchdog the SEC. Arista says US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) green-lit devices that use its rewritten EOS operating system (version 4.16 or later), at least for now.

Arista had to redo EOS after it lost a court case with Cisco over whether or not it illegally copied Cisco's IOS command-line interface. The row between the two vendors blew up in December 2014, and Switchzilla's win culminated in America's International Trade Commission applying a limited import ban on infringing Arista kit. That meant, from June 23 this year, Arista could no longer sell nor market hardware that infringed Cisco's intellectual property.

Arista claimed it had rewritten EOS by April, thus putting its new products in the clear. Despite that assurance, Cisco demanded another ITC investigation at the end of October, alleging that Arista was continuing to ship boxes that rip off Cisco's patents.

Arista's 8-K says the CBP has decided kit using EOS 4.16 and later "are not within the scope of the limited exclusion order issued by the United States International Trade Commission [ITC] ... and therefore may be imported into the United States."

The filing notes, however, that the customs decision isn't binding on the ITC, meaning there's still the prospect that the ban could be reapplied when the commission completes its latest probe. ®

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