Blackboard Patents the LMS
Jul 28, 2006
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This would be funny if it weren't so ridiculous: "The ever-brilliant US Patent and Trademark Office has apparently granted Blackboard a patent for...well...pretty much anything remotely related to learning management systems. As I read it, Blackboard basically owns the patent on any sort of groupware at all that is used for teaching purposes." Total: 5066
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Comments

Re: Blackboard Patents the LMS

Boycott Blackboard! Not that I haven't already ;-) Harold Jarche [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Blackboard Patents the LMS

Blackboard will now use all of its energy and money to go after its competitors - especially the ones who are truly innovative. You will be able to rank their most serious competitors by who they sue first. The result will be that the evolution of the e-learning environment for the benefit of schools and students, will now take a back seat to the evolution of the Blackboard corporation. The real humour here, is that the US Patent and Trademark Office took their broad claim serious. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Blackboard Patents the LMS

I would certainly like some measure of assurance that Blackboard will not use its claim of patent in anti-competitive practices that could adversely impact on development and innovation in the still-developing e-learning industry. As a loyal WebCT (Blackboard) customer, at an institution that has used WebCT for some six years now, we are unaffected by the patent granted to Blackboard. However, I am personally concerned that Blackboard has taken measures to secure a patent over technologies and methods which I am aware of being covered by prior art well before 1999, when the patent was filed. For example, my studies in Information Technology, commenced in 1996 at the Australian National University, made extensive use of a course-oriented, Internet-based information system for disseminating information to students, as well as a network-based electronic assignment drop-box (which even included built-in anti-plagiarism software, a feature not yet incorporated into Blackboard products). We also made extensive use of newsgroups for communication and collaboration during the entirety of my university studies. Having such knowledge of prior art, I find Blackboard's claim of patent at best refutable, and at worst, morally repugnant. Without an assurance that Blackboard will not attempt to use this patent to limit the development of competing e-learning management products, I would immediately withdraw my personal support and endorsement of all Blackboard products. Hopefully Blackboard are aware that there are many eyes now watching them to see how they attempt to use or abuse this patent. Leonard Low http://mlearning.edublogs.org [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Blackboard Patents the LMS and sues D2L

Blackboard has filed suit against Desire2Learn Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, alleging that Desire2Learn is infringing on their patent. I suspect they want to drain their financial resources and any creativity, competition and free enterprise left in the LMS market segment. It is a sad day for education. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Blackboard Patents the LMS

Blackboard didn't invent any of this stuff, and they know they didn't invent it. They're heading down SCO's road of burning every scrap of goodwill they have, it seems. References to prior art: History of online learning environments at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_virtual_learning_environments Online Learning History at moodle.org http://docs.moodle.org/en/Online_Learning_History Unfortunately for Blackboard, one of the companies with prior art is IBM, which is famous (notorious?) for never settling lawsuits. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Blackboard Patents the LMS

Those wiki pages need work--there were a lot more products before Blackboard came on the scene and as they arrived. I remember using a tool from Ireland in the mid-90s--the name slips my mind right now. We also used web course in a box way back when. As a relative newcomer, Desire2Learn is probably a good target for Bb, but I find Blackboard's behavior shameful as is. They have a good product, that could be better, and they have chosen to litigate rather than compete. I wrote my own LCMS in 1996 or so. Maybe I should go after Bb? Here's a reference on the lawsuit, btw http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=33396 [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Blackboard Patents the LMS

So add the Wiki pages please, or the page comments. Tx [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Blackboard Patents the LMS

Quoth Stephen: "This would be funny if it weren't so ridiculous..." In the wake of the lawsuit against Desire2Learn, it doesn't seem so humourous to me anymore. I've set up an online blog and wiki on the issue, and will be updating it with resources for the education community: http://blackfate.edublogs.org/ http://blackfate.wikispaces.com/ [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Blackboard Patents the LMS

It is also scary. Ironically WebCT existed before Blackboard and yet Bb submitted the patent application in 1999. How is this possible? It is very clear that Blackboard didn't invent the technology. Is there any way to protest a patent? They may have bought WebCT and be suing Desire2Learn but how will they sue Moodle, Sakai and all the open source competitors who are beginning to gain ground on them? [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Blackboard Patents the LMS

...and Moodle trademarks its software...hard to see the real difference in ethics here... http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=48528/ [moodle.org] and here: http://groups.google.com.br/group/sf-uk-discuss/br owse_thread/thread/60b321aba956fcdd/c634155509923a cb?lnk=raot/ [google.com.br] [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Blackboard Patents the LMS

"..and Moodle trademarks its software...hard to see the real difference in ethics here..." You miss the point. The Moodle 'name' and 'logo' as well as 'Moodle' professional services are trademarked. Patent and trademarks are very different and in this case, so are the ethics involved. Moodle does not patent any software or software process. BB has. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Blackboard Patents the LMS

Stephen good work in getting this set up. I will follow intently as I cannot believe the court systems allowing this, you would think they would do their homework. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Blackboard Patents the LMS

"a greedy corporation was once again trying to stifle innovation in education"(Harold Jarche). Let BB have its patent, we are not using it anymore! However, the lawsuit against D2L is absolutely unethical and unprofessional action. Who is the next?! Do something! [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Blackboard Patents the LMS

Don't US patents have a 9 month review period? If the patent was awarded in January, not much time is left, but shouldn't a case be made to the patent office? Yes, the patent is ludicrous, but since the patent office reps no doubt searched existing patents to see if the Bb submission infringed on anything existing and found none, they apparently assumed the claims were accurate. Now is the time to alert the patent office of those misrepresentations. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Blackboard Patents the LMS

It's simple: Blackboard will vanish due to this stupid strategic mistake. All greedy persons / companies ultimately make a deathly mistake because of their greediness :-D Hooray and bye, bye :-P Regarding the US Patent Office: The responsible guy(s) should be fired, but not without having investigated if they haven't been paid by someone within the BB interest group (this also includes investors and stock traders, for sure). IMO, these should be standard actions in such cases. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Blackboard Patents the LMS

It's simple: Blackboard will vanish due to this stupid strategic mistake. All greedy persons / companies ultimately make a deathly mistake because of their greediness :-D Hooray and bye, bye :-P Regarding the US Patent Office: The responsible guy(s) should be fired, but not without having investigated if they haven't been paid by someone within the BB interest group (this also includes investors and stock traders, for sure). IMO, these should be standard actions in such cases. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Blackboard Patents the LMS

http://www.boycottblackboard.org/ For those that care, sign the petition [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Blackboard Patents the LMS

D2L has a blog on their web site regarding the patent: http://www.desire2learn.com/patentinfo/ They are asking the community to share any Prior Art we might be aware of: PriorArt@Desire2Learn.com [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Blackboard Patents the LMS

There have been several online applications developed many years pior to BB. Check your local high schools. I knew one guy in Toronto who developed and online LMS-type system for testing students, grading them and managing courses way back in 1993. It was really simple compared to todays LMS, but an LMS just the same. The course material delivery was delivered by custom links to documents on the webserver or internet and files were uploaded by FTP. Here's something to note. Technically, all file systems are Content Management Systems and files systems have been around since forever. The Internet protocols of HTTP and FTP have also been around since forever. So we now have a CMS (file system) with a delivery system (HTTP or FTP). Place this in a school and make the files on the file system educationally structured and related to courses. You then have your first LMS pre-dating any solely HTTP driven LMS systems with structured rational databases. Patents are stupid and strangle innovation. [Comment] [Permalink]



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