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U.S. Navy Patents the Firewall? 206

Krishna Dagli writes to mention a post by Bruce Schneier on his site indicating that the U.S. Navy may be patenting the Firewall. Whether or not it is their intention to do so is unclear. From the patent description: "In a communication system having a plurality of networks, a method of achieving network separation between first and second networks is described. First and second networks with respective first and second degrees of trust are defined, the first degree of trust being higher than the second degree of trust. Communication between the first and second networks is enabled via a network interface system having a protocol stack, the protocol stack implemented by the network interface system in an application layer."
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U.S. Navy Patents the Firewall?

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  • And my cisco, and my netopia, and my netgear.

  • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @09:59AM (#15674929)
    Instinctively, I hate the notion of the government patenting anything. It might be because it seems ridiculous that anything the taxpayers paid for should be made unavailable to them. But... I can't find anything in the constitution that makes this abhorent practice illegal or unjustified. My reaction seems motivated by civic virtue rather than a legal basis.

    Does anyone know of a solid legal reason that the government shouldn't be able to obtain patents?
  • Errr... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sarlos ( 903082 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @10:01AM (#15674946)
    I may be thinking of something else, but it sounds more like a method of keeping secure information on the secure network, not allowing it to leak to the unsecure network, while still allowing data to cross from the unsecure side to the secure side... From their description, it's based on a pump architecture:
    [0026] Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown in one embodiment of the present invention a high-level schematic of a communication network system 100 having a first communication network 102 having a first level of security or level of trust "x", and a second communication network 104 having a second level of security "y", where y
  • by zeoslap ( 190553 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @10:05AM (#15674976) Homepage
    Just because you patent something doesn't mean that it becomes unavailable; it just prevents someone else from patenting it. So as long as the government allows free use of its inventions there really isn't a problem with this at all.
  • by buzdale ( 943806 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @10:08AM (#15674998)
    By patenting the firewall the Navy may stop those companies that seem to patent things solely to send you extortion notes for licensing. Typically the federal gov't can't/doesn't license them. Since they are taxpayer funded they seem to be "Ours." Actually there are a lot of patents that I wish they had. Anyone know for sure if this will essentially place the firewall patent in the public domain?
  • Warning! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jbeaupre ( 752124 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @10:16AM (#15675067)
    To all of you shooting from the hip: STOP! You're just making a fool of yourself.
    Read the claims. Read them in light of the description of the patent. And learn patent terminology. Then you can make some general statements. And if it's only a publication (like this navy one), not a patent, don't even bother with that.
    If you must draw a conclusion, and you're sure this is about a firewall, then at least go the step to know they are claiming a type of firewall. Which is perfectly legit (as long as it contains a new, non-obvious element). If you think otherwise, go learn about patents, come back, and then we'll talk.

    PS:plurality is a very common patent term. It means more than one (duh!). Not even worth making a comment about, but someone felt compelled to jabber about it.
  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @10:17AM (#15675077) Homepage Journal
    Cheaper maybe but the Navy probably uses staff lawyers for the patent filing so the cost would be tiny. The truth is a patent does provide you better legal protection than any PDF on a website ever could.
    I would vote for cheap insurance.
  • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @10:18AM (#15675081)
    I can only several reasons that the government patenting something might be fair:

    1) If a non-American entity (person, company, etc.) wants to use the technology, then it would basically be the American people selling the right to use the patented technology to non-Americans. In that way, Americans, who funded the research, win.

    2) In some sense, something that benefits the Navy does benefit Americans in general. When the Navy licenses a patented technology to a private company, this (hopefully) causes some money to move from that private entity to a public one (the U.S. govt.) That basically co-funds something that all taxpayers were having to chip in on the payment of (that is, the cost of government / national defense).

    3) Suppose that even if a technology has been made available for free, no one can afford to commercialize it if more than one company will be doing the commercialization. This might happen, for example, if the market is very small. For example, if there are just two competitors and 10 companies that might build the device, then each of those 10 companies facies great risk. So granting an exclusive license to use the patented technology could be the only way to get even one company to build the device in that situation.
  • by hamburger lady ( 218108 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @11:05AM (#15675516)
    no you aren't. that's just plain goofy. patent protection only begins when a patent is granted.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 07, 2006 @11:32AM (#15675777)
    I am listed as an inventor on a US Navy Patent.
    The deal is the Sec. of Navy holds the patent.
    Basically, ours says the US Navy invented it. We patented it so we don't have to pay other commericial entities royalities or anything as it was developted at tax payer expence. We allow others to use it royality free.

    It is to protect the tax payer. Why should the governemnt allow some outside commerical enity to patent an idea developed by the gov't at taxpayer expense.
  • Then why not allow government departments that invest their time and effort to have the privilege of patents and subsequent liscenses as well?

    Patents exist to promote novel and usefull inventions. The method behind this is granting exclusive rights for a limited amount of time to the inventor so (s)he can compensate for investment and make a buck from the invention.

    The granting of exclusive rights is how society 'pays' the inventor for his efford and investment.

    In the case of a government department however society already payed the inventor for both. The investment comes from tax money, and so does the salary of the inventor.

    There is no reason for society to pay twice for the same thing.

    Do you beleive that all companies should just be able to take a government department's work in a particular field and use it without having to pay for it?

    As long as they pay taxes they already payed for it.

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