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by Stephen Downes
February 23, 2008

Jury Supports Blackboard Patent
This is a special issue of OLDaily to wrap up coverage of the Blackboard patent trial jury verdict.

The East Texas jury managed to wra up deliberations in an afternoon and get away for the weekend with a judgement of $3.1 million in favour of Blackboard. The reaction across the web was generally one of dismay, though there were some mitigating factors: first, the settlement was much less than Blackboard as wasking, second, the verdict did not include an injunction against sales of Desire2Learn software, and third, the patent is still under review by the U.S. patent office.

Still, Michael Feldstein probably summed up the views of most observers: "I'm speechless." Feldstein provides ongoing coverage of the reaction, including a post linking to Desire2Learn's letter to their customers, coverage of the Campus Technology article on the case, and a summary of the Waterloo Record article.

Feldstein comments, "One thing that is clear, however, is that so far nobody has benefited financially from this. The $3.1 million Bb could receive in settlement probably won't even cover their legal fees. Their stock is at the same level it was when they initiated the lawsuit and down over 40% from its highs. And obviously D2L has not come out richer either. Blackboard has a net loss of customers and has created tremendous negative press for itself while D2L now has at least one major customer who is willing to go on record saying that they are worried."

Others were less restrained in their comments. Donald Clark writes, "The very idea that Blackboard invented multipe user accounts and access to learning resources is nothing short of software fascism."

Grainne Conole writes that she's "shocked" after hearing about the result from Terry Anderson, who (mincing no words) titled his article, "Evil Blackboard legally extorts $3,000,000." He writes, "I hope this action further alienates users from Blackboard and it accelerates the exodus of fair minded educators from the ranks of Blackboard customers."

Leigh Blackall expresses his view visually and links to the Boycott Blackboard page. Barry Dahl writes, "My guess is that they just wanted it over - go ahead and punish the wayward Canadians ... I wonder how hard it is for patriotic American jurors to find in favor of a foreign company over a domestic one. Pretty hard, I bet." (I would call it a RIM special - if you are Canadian and selling in a U.S. market, expect lawsuits. It's what they do to supplement tariffs and trade restrictions).

More coverage:

Liberal Education Today links to The Record. Alfred Essa writes, "Although all is not lost, this is a crushing blow to Desire2Learn, one of the few remaining commercial competitors to Blackboard in the higher education LMS market." Seb Schmoller sums up a series of search links. Michael C. Smith (who covers the East texas court where the case was held) suggests that "Most readers are familiar with the studies that place the cost of litigating a patent case at $3 million per side" and asks "is this a true win for the plaintiff, or a loss because they didn't get a recovery over the cost of bringing the case?" Blackboard, meanwhile, spent the day announcing BlackBoard TV, which is the amazing innovation of creating a YouTube channel (better run down to the Patent Office and file papers on that one!) which is actually kind of nice because, as you know, it includes a discussion forum where you can express your views on the case to Blackboard.

Various Authors, Weblog February 23, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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