Formal Challenge Launched To Blackboard's E-Learning Patent

from the about-time dept

E-learning company Blackboard didn't make many friends earlier this year when it started suing others over a questionable patent that appears to broadly cover the concept of e-learning. The deeper you looked at the patent, the worse it looked, and so it should come as no surprise that a group has now requested that the Patent Office review and invalidate all 44 claims of the patent. Of course, the review process takes forever, and has all sorts of appeals built into the system -- meaning that it's unlikely that any such review will be completed by the time Blackboard's lawsuits are concluded. Since the law is clear that a patent has to be considered valid, it means all sorts of trouble for companies and schools in the e-learning space until the review process is exhausted. That's just one of the problems with a system that makes it relatively easy to get a patent, but extremely difficult to challenge one.


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  1.  
    identicon
    Dav, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 1:21pm

    This is interesting, i never hear much about this company.

    This tool is the main on line learning resource used at my university and i use it on a daily basis.

    With the way these tech companies do business with lawsuits instead of competition these days I'm not surprised to see other companies try it.

    Its a sue or be sued world out there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Twinkiman, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 1:42pm

    Re:

    same here, and agreed

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Marc Cohen, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 5:59pm

    A person who writes that it is relatively easy to get a patent is a person who has never gotten a patent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    misanthropic humanist, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 7:10pm

    patents are a rich mans tool

    Sorry Mike I must agree with Marc Cohen. Getting a patent is a very expensive prodedure, the system acts a barrier to ordinary folk, small companies and independent researchers. I'm glad to see you echo my recently posted point about challenges though. What's needed is for patents to be very easy to void, or, as I put it "self-voiding" at the least evidence of prior art.

    This would actually make patents EVEN HARDER to obtain (and keep), but the onus would shift from paying lots of money to incompetent and unqualified patent office researchers, to a significant time investment doing proper research.

    Im my opinion this would lead to fewer patents but set the bar much higher for quality.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Mousky, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 8:45pm

    Re: patents are a rich mans tool

    as I put it "self-voiding" at the least evidence of prior art

    Can I add "obviousness"?

    Im my opinion this would lead to fewer patents but set the bar much higher for quality.

    That is a very good thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Mousky, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 8:46pm

    Re:

    If so much time and money is invested in obtaining a patent, why do the majority of patents sit 'on the shelf' at the USPTO gathering dust?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Nov 30th, 2006 @ 11:11pm

    Re:

    A person who writes that it is relatively easy to get a patent is a person who has never gotten a patent.

    As I said, it's "relatively" easy. It does involve some steps, but the process is relatively simple these days, especially if you have a lawyer who's done it before.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Eric the Grey, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 12:34pm

    Blackbord blows anyway

    To be crude about it, their system blows.

    I've had to use it for this past semester and had nothing but problems with it. The Java applications are incredibly slow to load and the "browser" check only recognizes IE and older versions of Firefox, so each and every time I log in, I'm forced to wait until it tells me that I'm running a non-compliant browser (FF 2.0) and close the window. Plus, I'm forced to open my system to all types of java-script hacks just to use the thing.

    I hope they loose the ability to keep other companies from competing. Perhaps in another year, something better will come along.


    EtG

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Jeff, May 7th, 2007 @ 2:51pm

    Re: Blackbord blows anyway

    There is something far better. It is called Angel. Our college is running to it ASAP, because as you said, Blackboard blows.

    Jeff

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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