Blackboard's Reverse Rent

Alfred Essa, NOSE, Aug 23, 2006
Commentary by Stephen Downes

It conjures up images of your big smelly uncle moving in with you and then shaking you down for 'rent'. "Blackboard Inc. has ripped off ideas from the Intellectual Commons -- ideas small and large contributed by a community of inquirers and practitioners -- made it their 'intellectual property' and now want to charge everyone reverse rent for it.... In the meantime they have filed for other patents. What do these patents cover? Whose ideas are these? And whom will they sue next? Are you in their bullseye?" Also, Essa reminds us of the social networking patent filed by Friendster.

You know, as we follow the Blackboard case, it's worth asking how well the company has done when compared to these important principles of successful business:
# Be worthy of trust.
# Everyone knows that you are smart -- don't try to prove it.
# You are there to help, not to be right.
# Be a concierge - if it needs doing, do it.
# Develop services and products that are worth paying a premium price for.
# Do business as if you were working with a good friend
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