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Websense Secures Web Filtering Patent

If you can't access your favorite betting site or eBay auction the next time you are at work, consider it the fault of Websense .

The San Diego-based software company, which touts itself as a "provider of employee Internet management solutions," Monday said it has secured a patent for parts of its core technology.

U.S. patent number 6,606,659, entitled "System and Method for Controlling Access to Internet Sites," is part of Websense Enterprise platform. The software helps companies restrict employees' use of the Internet through a system of filters based on an organization's defined policy. The company's platform can be organized to give employees not so subtle hints such as warning pages with an option that suggests they can view certain Web content until after work hours.

Such was the case last March, when the company warned about $504 million in potential lost productivity due to employees checking scores and viewing game webcasts during the annual NCAA tournament.

The platform also allows management to filter by time of day as well as "time-based quotas." The practice sets a daily time limit for employee access to non-business-related Web sites, and notifies a user when they are running out of time. Major corporations such as General Motors and Coca-Cola subscribe to the hosted service.

Websense vice president of engineering Ronald Hegli says the patents help differentiate the company from competing products by N2H2, Secure Computing and SurfControl that he says limit their options to basic "block" or "allow" functions.

"While other systems often over block -- preventing legitimate business-related Internet use -- the sophisticated technology of Websense Enterprise enables an organization to fine-tune its Internet use policies to strike a balance between business and employee requirements," Hegli said in a statement.

Websense says it also has additional patents pending for its WebCatcher and AppCatcher technologies. WebCatcher categorizes new or not yet classified Web sites visited by employees; AppCatcher looks for new or not yet classified applications and executables. The site or program is then added to the Websense master database.

The company says it has a master database of 4.9 million Web sites organized into 92 categories of Internet content.