Desire2Learn has published some fairly tawdry details that have emerged during the discovery phase of the patent trial. (During discovery, both sides can demand to see relevant internal documents from the other side. Nasty confidential details can get exposed.) For one thing, Blackboard apparently sponsored a spy to go to the D2L user conference and report back on the events and even had an employee pose as a university employee (with a fake email address) to gain competitive information.
Also, Blackboard’s communications with its PR firm apparently say that, while the public story around the patent is that they are protecting their intellectual property, the “real” purpose was to “contain and control” D2L. So the goal is to distract the #2 vendor in the LMS space with a costly lawsuit. Not only has Blackboard known all along that their lawsuit could damage competition in the LMS space (as I and others have argued); they explicitly intended to damage competition, as the court documents apparently show. Judging by the amount of traffic I saw at the D2L booth this week here at EDUCAUSE, it looks like they failed.
There’s more to the blog post, which is worth reading in its entirety (although it will probably make you sad and a little queasy.) D2L is preparing to file for a summary judgment, which is not surprising given that they have already gotten two thirds of the patent claims ruled invalid by two different judges. Sadly, since Blackboard’s motive is apparently to cost D2L as much money as possible regardless of their chances of winning in court, it seems virtually certain that Blackboard would file an appeal if they lose.
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