Robert Van Nest. Photo: Jason Doiy/ALM

Tell us about your biggest trial win from January 2016 to July 2017 and how you achieved the result for your client.

We defended Arista Networks against Cisco’s claims that Arista copied more than 500 commands to configure network switches. This case raised the question of whether and to what extent functional computer commands merit copyright protection. A federal jury found that Arista owed no damages arising from Cisco’s claims of copyright infringement, and any infringement of Cisco’s components was excused by scènes à faire.

We succeeded because, for years, Cisco held out its command line interface as a de facto standard to establish itself as the industry leader. We persuaded the jury that Cisco’s commands were effectively required by existing networking protocols, and that Arista’s routers contain millions of lines of original source code.

Share two trial tips that have been key to your success.

1) I spend a significant portion of my time anticipating not only what opposing counsel are going to do, but the most effective thing they could do. Don’t overlook pretrial disclosures.

2) Don’t bore the jury. I bring diverse trial teams to make our presentations more engaging for the jury, and to allow each lawyer to focus on his or her witness more effectively. — Robert Van Nest