Friday, January 26, 2007

Blackboard Set to Lose Unfair Patents

Revisiting a Bad Patent

I've reported on the terrible Blackboard patent before, and how it never should have been granted in the first place.

Well, after EDUCAUSE and the Software Freedom Law Center filed formal petitions to have Blackboard's offending patent stripped--the Fed has finally begun doing its job:

"In response to a challenge from a free and open software group, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has agreed to re-examine all 44 claims of a patent that covers e-learning tools.

Patent No. 6,988,138, awarded last year to the academic technology company Blackboard, is titled "Internet-based education support system and methods." It involves the ability to grant different people, such as students and teachers, different access rights to online resources such as grades, files or quizzes.

In November, the Software Freedom Law Center, a New York-based provider of pro-bono legal services to the free and open software movement, asked the Patent Office to rethink the patent grant. In order for an invention to receive patent protection, it's supposed to be novel, useful and non-obvious. The SFLC argues the Blackboard patent doesn't meet that standard and has offered "prior art," or evidence that the invention has been used before."

Read the full post here.

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