The Navy has begun a second round of online war gaming designed to address the contentious issue of intellectual property (IP) rights, a key aspect of the Pentagon’s effort to promote open architecture systems and greater competition in acquisition programs.

Acquiring intellectual property is seen by the Pentagon as critical for creating more competition in the acquisition process and breaking the “vendor lock” a company can have on a program through control of intellectual property rights. The issue has become a key point of contention between the Pentagon and industry, as companies are reluctant to surrender their IP rights.

Nicholas Guertin, the Navy's director for transformation, speaking at Defense Daily's Open Architecture Summit in Nov. 2013. Photo by Dane Rene, special to Defense Daily.
Nicholas Guertin, the Navy’s director for transformation, speaking at Defense Daily’s Open Architecture Summit in Nov. 2013. Photo by Dane Rene, special to Defense Daily.

“We are trying to get some good practices for IP, to help understand how we can improve competitions, get more businesses involved in bringing innovation to the warfighter, and also to improve our competitions with the things we are already buying,” said Nicholas Guertin, the Navy’s director of transformation in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation.

The purpose of the two-week exercise that began Monday is to generate broad input from government officials, industry and academia to develop and identify innovative ideas and solutions for addressing the challenges associated with intellectual property rights, Guertin said.

“This is an interesting topic,” Guertin said in an interview. “There’s lots of room to find new ways of doing this better. And it’s something that is very close to people’s skin, something they’re interested in and want to better understand how to do, as well as have some strong feelings about.”

More than 400 individuals have signed up to participate in this year’s exercise, doubling the number who played during the first one a year ago, Guertin said. Last year’s theme was geared toward finding ways to incentivize industry to adopt open architecture approaches. The discussion ultimately led to the issue of intellectual property rights, effectively teeing up this year’s subject, he said.

The exercise is taking place on the Naval Postgraduate School’s Massive Multi-Player Online Wargame Leveraging the Internet (MMOWGLI) website.

The discussion kicked off with two themes, one geared around what the government is doing to help competition, the other on what the government is doing to hurt competition, Guertin said. From there, players submit idea—or seed—cards.

The ones that generate the most interest and are most “novel” or “super interesting” are then transitioned into action plans, pulling together the various comments and turning them into a comprehensive document that can be reviewed by all participants, Guertin said.

The Navy can then take the most promising solutions and introduce them into its various acquisition commands. Guertin said that based on last year’s results, the Navy established working groups with representatives from each acquisition command to explore how automated testing can be integrated into the process as a way to save money.

Guertin said that participating in the war game is not a full time job, and that players can log in to MMOWGLI and “dabble” in it for an hour each day if they choose. He added that new players are welcome throughout the duration of the exercise. Anyone interested in joining can sign up at