Cisco denies restraint of trade in Arista-spat, asks court to dismiss case

Under a trade ban, Arista can't sue in America, says Switchzilla

Under fire from Cisco and US trade regulators, Arista has fought back by accusing Switchzilla of anti-trust behaviours. So last week Cisco asked a Californian judge to dismiss the case.

Arista filed its suit in February last year, complaining (PDF) that Cisco indulged in “a scheme of anticompetitive conduct to retain its monopoly in the data centre”.

Part of that complaint harked back to the IP infringement case in which Arista was found to have imitated Cisco's command line interface (CLI) and infringed its copyright, but not in ways that made it liable for damages. Arista accused Cisco of using the CLI as an anti-competitive tool, encouraging some parts of the industry to use it (characterising the CLI as “industry standard”) while firing sueballs at Arista, a competitor.

In the course of the copyright suit, Cisco found an ally in the International Trade Commission (ITC), which slapped an import ban on Arista during 2016. Arista responded that it removed some code, for feature called PVLAN, and redesigned other code called "SysDB communication".

The ITC decision is also relevant to Cisco's request last week: it argues that because there's a trade ban on Arista products, the company doesn't have any standing as a litigant in the USA.

In its filing (PDF), Cisco argues “Arista’s complaint fails because it is not a lawful competitor in the marketplace and thus has no recognizable antitrust injury, and its claims have no legal or factual merit, having been rejected on the facts by a jury in this very court and on the law by the court of appeals”.

The same argument applies to Arista's complaint that the level of discounts Cisco offered for product/service contract bundles is anti-competitive. ®

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