4 responses

  1. George Kroner
    November 14, 2013

    I, too, had hoped at the time for the emergence of a mature industry approach in the edtech space towards software patents as a result of Blackboard’s past actions. Institutions need to become much wiser in terms of the legal aspects of software in general. It is not all blue skies and roses. Wishing away Bad Things and remaining under-informed of not only how software patents work but also how contracts work is not an effective approach to dealing effectively with situations like this. Unfortunately the world is not a perfect place, and these situations will continue to impact us – at least until our patent system is meaningfully reformed. Mitigating risk in this area should be a component of any software decision.

    In no way am I defending Blackboard’s previous aggressive and offensive behavior towards Desire2Learn. This I believe was a strategic mistake on the part of the organization at the time. While the battle was won, and the rallying against Blackboard ultimately resulted in its loss of its primary LMS patent, this has left the organization in a weaker position to defend itself (and in turn its customers) against frivolous lawsuits – the same type of lawsuits to which every other LMS vendor is susceptible, too.

    The details surrounding software-related intellectual property form an incredibly complicated space, and as Phil notes alliances can be an effective means to proactively thwart patent trolls. Universities, coincidentally, collectively own a lot of patents. Combined with the vendors in this space, I believe there is an opportunity to make an impact that leaves everyone in a better place. And in the end, this approach might be less costly and involve less effort than fighting to invalidate each patent piecemeal.

  2. Jim Wrubel
    November 14, 2013

    The claim asserted here seems vulnerable to prior art. It would be worth enlisting the support of Ask Patents (http://patents.stackexchange.com/) to enlist community support to assist in the defense.

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