The decision in March by the U.S. Patent Office to give SurfWatch Software the rights to a major type of internet content filtering technology left school observers wondering how the decision will affect product availability and the price schools might have to pay to protect students from the seamy side of the internet.

In the hours immediately after the announcement, all the major players in the intensely competitive internet content filtering market were scrambling to sort out the implications of the patent office decision. SurfWatch competitors polled for this report were unanimous on one point, however: The patent won't hinder their


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