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We present a novel optical flip-flop configuration that consists of two unidirectional ring lasers with separate cavities but sharing the same active element unidirectionally. We show that in such a configuration light in the lasing cavity can suppress lasing in the other cavity so that this system forms an optical bistable element. Essential for obtaining the bistability is the presence of an additional feedback circuit that is shared by both lasers. We show experimentally that the flip-flop can be optically set and reset, has a contrast ratio of 40 dB and allows low optical power operation. We also present a model based on roundtrip equations. Good agreement between theory and experiments is obtained.