Chris Hoff has an interesting post on several new patents Fortinet has been granted. The original article is at vmblog.com, but Hoff's "New Fortinet Patents May Spell Nasty Trouble For UTM Vendors, Virtualization Vendors, App. Deliver Vendors, Routing/Switching Vendors... " adds some insight to the topic.
These patents cover things like:
Systems and Methods for Passing Network Traffic Data
System and Method for Controlling Routing in a Virtual Router System
Distributed Virtual System to Support Managed, Network-based Services
I think much of this is probably covered by prior art or obvious technology exemptions, but the US Patent office is not noted for doing a great job lately, especially in the IP and software patent arena. Maybe they feel bad for IP and patent attorneys and feel that bogus patents destined for litigation will help the starving lawyers find their next meal- or maybe this stuff can be tricky and they just can't handle it (I prefer the snarky answer, facts be damned).
I have a hunch some of the big guys may have something to say about patents which appear to encroach on their territory- Microsoft, EMC/VMWare, and Cisco to name a few that I would hate to challenge to a patent fight.
Oh, yeah, the disclosure bit again: I work for Astaro, one of Fortinet's competitors- but you knew that.