Blackboard's Pending Patents

David Carter-Tod, A poke with a sharp stick, Aug 22, 2006
Commentary by Stephen Downes

An item from David Carter-Tod lists more pending patents submitted by Blackboard. It will take some analysis of these, but they again appear to be concepts already established at the time of the filing.

Take, for example, the "method and system for conducting online transactions." The application describes a system where users have an account with an organization that acts as a broker for sales of third-party materials. Yes, a 'store'. But more to the point, the description seems to be almost a clone of the system I describe here and elsewhere. Not, again, that I am claiming to be the first person ever to think of it. But I was definitely ahead of - and published before - Blackboard's patent application.

Miles Berry takes a detailed look at the likely impact of the patent in britain. He writes, "There was an interesting case a few years ago of Bromcom holding a patent to wireless(attendance) registration, which the the DfES challenged and were then assigned the UK patent rights in an out of court settlement, and I could imagine a similar legal challenge from the DfES if push came to shove in this case. Another curious thing is how, as far as I know, Blackboard have thus far steared fairly clear of the UK schools market..."

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