Desire2Learn Patent-Information Blog

Blackboard, a company that sells popular course-management software, recently won a $3.1 settlement against Desire2Learn.  According to Slashdot,

Blackboard has been granted a patent that covers a single person
having multiple roles in an LMS: for example, a TA might be a student
in one class and an instructor in another. You wouldn’t think something
this obvious could even be patented, but so far it’s been a very
effective weapon for Blackboard, badly hurting Desire2Learn and
generating a huge amount of worry for the few remaining commercial LMSs
that Blackboard has not already bought, and open source solutions such
as Moodle (Blackboard’s pledge not to attack such providers notwithstanding).”

However, according to Desire2Learn,

On March 25, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office issued its Non-Final Action on the re-examination of the Blackboard Patent. We are studying the document, found here,
but in short, the PTO has rejected all 44 of Blackboard’s claims.

At a workshop next week at the 4Cs, I’m presenting a half-hour on intellectual property and ethics, in an attempt to get users of off-the-shelf course management tools to think about what it means when they give an outside corporation so much control over the content of their courses.  (I’m guilty of this, too, since I use a lot, so my intention is not to scold but rather raise questions; Mike Edwards will then introduce some open-source alternatives to commercial software.)