back to article Cisco tears off gloves, throws copyright and patent punches at Arista

Cisco has filed suit against rival Arista Networks, accusing it of ripping off Cisco's intellectual property. The networking goliath said it will lodge patent and copyright infringement claims against Arista, arguing the upstart has based its business on ideas and technologies copied from Cisco. The claim includes allegations …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fair cop?

    We recently had Arista touting their wares to our company and they kept stressing that one of the key advantages is that the CLI is so similar to Cisco's that we wouldn't need to retrain our staff. I have no idea if a CLI is patentable but if it is, it seems a fair cop to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fair cop?

      From my understanding you're right on the money. Given many of the staff are ex-Cisco, it shouldn't be surprising that a significant proportion of the code (amongst other things) is a direct copy. Apparently a lot of the documentation was also copied verbatim from Cisco documentation - including the spelling mistakes.

      Far from being innovative, Arista have cut a hell of a lot of corners and it seems that for once Cisco is actually in the right in wanting to take a litigation approach to this.

      I feel a bit dirty for defending Cisco like this, however. Pass me the bleach.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fair cop?

        That's nothing but FUD.

        EOS (Arista's Extensible Operating System) cannot be a clone of IOS - since IOS is a monolithic beast and EOS is a fedora install w/ an Arista userland on top. These two things are not compatible in any way, shape or form.

        They are complaining about ideas here, not code. If they were complaining about the OS then Quagga would also be in scope, as would various Brocade OSs, and anything else that looks like IOS.

        1. Martin Chandler

          Re: Fair cop?

          Seems to me that there is more religious zealousness rather than rational thought on this post. The OP stated that *IF* the CLI can be protected by law then its a 'fair cop'. If the allegations from Cisco's copyright filing ( are true (namely that over 500 multi-word commands were copied, etc.) then, on this narrow point, I think the OP is correct.

          ...I guess we'll (eventually) find out (unless Arista settle out of court).

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: Fair cop?

            If the CLI can be protected by law, then APIs can too. They're basically the same thing. Except we've been down that road already, and Cisco fucking knows it. Which means they are doing this for another reason. That reason is most likely "to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about Arista". Now their sales team can go in and say "do you want to buy from a tiny company like Arista with a huge lawsuit looming over them?"

            All of this has happened before, and we shouldn't let it happen again.

            1. Tom Samplonius

              Re: Fair cop?

              "If the CLI can be protected by law, then APIs can too...."

              The matter of whether a CLI can be copyrighted, was already settled in the US some years ago. The bottom line, is that it can't.

              As far as the API, Cisco routers and switches do not have an API. Cisco can you sell you some sort of provisioning software that runs on a separate server, that exposes an API, but the switches and routers do not have one. This is the big reason why Arista is getting business.

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: Fair cop?

                "As far as the API, Cisco routers and switches do not have an API"

                They don't even have consistent internal code. It's a mish-mash of items written in different languages by different companies who got borged.

                What Cisco's running in abject fear of, is commodity silicon

                More specifically Broadcom's TridentII family:

                Cisco are overpriced, underengineered and have been relying on "we're Cisco" for far too long. It was rather telling that at their last sales pitch to us they concentrated more on FUD about the competitors than their own product's advantages.

      2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Fair cop?

        Arist's OS may use a similar CLI, but that's nothing more than "copying the API." Under the hood it behaves completely differently.

        Maybe Cisco could "innovate" a way to actually having customers want to buy Cisco. Or is that beyond their "innovation engine?" Arista's customers are fiercely loyal for a reason: they make damned good tech, and they don't charge a village worth's of virgins and a rare volcano for it.

        Cisco network exists only because of lock-in. Period. Everyone else is running to Huawei or Arista. Both for good reasons.

        But hey, litigation is easier than innovation, right? Cisco: that's not an "innovation" engine you're running. It's an "acquisition and integration engine", backed by a litigation engine. What's next, rounded corners on packets? Design patent lawsuits?

        I expected more from a company like Cisco. The ability to compete on merit, for one.

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Fair cop?

      Every switch vendor on the planet makes that a marketing item. Supermicro, Dell, etc.

      See Oracle v Google for that whole "you can't use our APIs" thing. How'd that work out for Oracle, hmm?

    3. Tom Samplonius

      Re: Fair cop?

      "I have no idea if a CLI is patentable but if it is, it seems a fair cop to me."

      Its not. There is case law to support that. In fact, by Cisco over 10 years ago.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It seems that Cisco have lost the innovation war against Arista. Once it would be Cisco driving new features and being first to market, now they're just making crappy clones of what Arista are pushing out the door.

    I cannot see Cisco reasonably able to compete against similar Arista kit, and they're just trying to kill that Arista shaped hole in their switching earnings.

    I'd have to agree with this quote - "It's not the Cisco I knew"

  3. sjiveson

    One interesting point to note is that Arista’s eAPI is probably one of the best APIs out there right now. This is one company that is well ahead of the industry and very open to the future; Cisco’s actions will only accelerate that for Arista and others and quite possibly further speed the pace of change to Cisco’s continued detriment.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like