Thursday, November 30, 2006

New Development in the Fight Against Blackboard

Blackboard's dominance of the academic market seems ready to take another hit. After EDUCAUSE fired off their public letter of complaint against Blackboard's software patent, apparently, others took it as a sign to take legal action.

Cnet's has a new report on this hot-button issue in higher ed:

The Software Freedom Law Center said Thursday that it has asked the U.S. Patent Office to re-examine a patent awarded to education software company Blackboard. It claims that the patent is bogus and could undermine three open-source education software projects it represents--Sakai, Moodle and ATutor. The patent, No. 6,988,138, is titled "Internet-based education support system and methods" and relates to a central feature of Blackboard's software: The ability to grant different people, such as students and teachers, different access rights to online resources such as grades, files or quizzes.

"It's a junk patent that should never have been given by the Patent Office," said Richard Fontana, a patent attorney with the Software Freedom Law Center. And the patent's claims could have an impact on the three projects, he said: "They do effectively cover just about any e-learning software that is currently in use."

Apparently, after Blackboard stalled and stonewalled and refused to budge, it seems possible that the patent will be stripped from them after all.

You can read the rest of the post here.

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