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Patent Office Rejects Blackboard E-Learning Patent One Month After It Wins Lawsuit

from the interesting-timing dept

One of the more annoying things in patent lawsuits is watching the USPTO reject patents soon after a lawsuit concludes -- and having the judges in those lawsuits refuse to wait for the USPTO to weigh in. This is especially troublesome considering that so many patent re-exams result in rejected claims. It would only make sense for judges to wait until the Patent Office has had a chance to review the patent. As if to highlight that, late last week, the USPTO rejected all claims on a rather infamous "e-learning" patent held by Blackboard Inc. This comes just slightly over a month after Blackboard won a lawsuit using that very patent. It was known during the trial that the Patent Office had agreed to review it, but apparently, the judge didn't want to wait.

Of course, Blackboard quickly came out with a statement saying this doesn't matter, it's already won the case, and it still expects an injunction to be issued preventing Desire2Learn from offering e-learning software. Blackboard is correct that this is just an initial rejection (meaning there are still responses and additional rounds to go), but it still seems rather weak to put out a statement saying that everyone should just ignore the rather significant questions the USPTO has just raised about the patent in question.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Eliot, Mar 31st, 2008 @ 10:56am

    What happens to D2L?

    I'm confused a little. What is going to happen to Desire2Learn (D2L)? I mean, I assume they are appealing the whole thing, and might win since the patent is overturned, but ... how does this process work?

     

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  2.  
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    JoshuaBA, Mar 31st, 2008 @ 11:04am

    What about the judge?

    What is more interesting to me is that the judge, despite ruling in favor of a contested patent (a bit like convicting a person when the evidence still hasn't been analyzed), will have no consequences for his unwarranted likely destruction of the company D2L. Why are judges not held responsible for bad rulings? At the very least, if the patent remains invalidated, the judge should share fiscal responsibility for all losses caused to D2L from the injunction.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2008 @ 11:54am

    Would D2L have a cause of action against the Patent Office? Since their unwillingness to get it correct the first time was the cause of this mess.

     

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  4.  
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    Eric the Grey, Mar 31st, 2008 @ 12:04pm

    Re: What happens to D2L?

    I would imagine they now have cause to go back to court and fight the ruling.

    Personally, I think the original Judge in the case needs to be censured to ensure he/she doesn't allow something like this to happen again. If the facts are under contention, there is no valid reason for a case to continue.


    EtG

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2008 @ 12:13pm

    Re: What about the judge?

    The judge definitely needs some form of reprimand. The problem is, what with hindsight being 20/20, when do you draw the line on what a "Bad Ruling" is?

    In this case the 'standard legal procedure' or whatever it is called should have been to recess the court until the Patent Office had reviewed the patent.

    But what about other cases? There *are* some rulings that were 100% legal and right AT THE TIME of the ruling (this ruling was 100% legal, and not right) but now a days would be outright wrong.

    Easy examples involve most civil liberties of anyone who is not a white male in the US. The technological examples are harder to find, but do exist.

     

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  6.  
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    Chris, Mar 31st, 2008 @ 12:47pm

    No doubt...

    It was an East Texas judge that made the ruling.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2008 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re: What about the judge?

    "Easy examples involve most civil liberties of anyone who is not a white male in the US. The technological examples are harder to find, but do exist."

    What the heck is that suppose to mean? Don't through that out without proof or at the very least examples either way.

    I am a white male and I know for a fact I do not get any favortism because of that. If anything I get penalized because of that. I.E. all the special business loans, student grants or loans and so on if you are a minority or female or both. Just wondering how is that not discriminatory?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Grady, Mar 31st, 2008 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: What about the judge?

    Will you re-read that? Really; he is saying that way back when, if you weren't a white male, then you were screwed. It was legal and right (because it was the way humans were, esp. in "America"), but now, they aren't either (legal or right).

     

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  9.  
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    pegr, Mar 31st, 2008 @ 2:02pm

    My comment was perfectly cromulant...

    Yet I guess it didn't match the political tone here. The judge is right, it's the patent office that messed up!

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Mar 31st, 2008 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Re: What happens to D2L?

    That is all unlikely to happen. Ask RIM for more details ;)

     

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  11.  
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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Apr 1st, 2008 @ 5:52pm

    Ignorance is no excuse

    Michael Masnick, when are you going to invest the effort to understand patent issues?

    All it takes is one infringed claim for D2L to be hung. And the reality is that the USPTO routinely lobs hot cases into the appeals system to avoid being left in the hot seat. This does not mean that the patent is invalid and there is a 90% chance that all or part of the patent will be upheld.

    Desire to Learn (D2L) is in my opinion another example of a Canadian company pirating American patent properties. They are taking jobs, tax base, and prosperity which belong to our people.

    They remind me of a couple of other Canadian companies, namely RIM and Bodog, both of who have been caught with their sticky fingers in American company's patent cookie jars. Both have had those sticky fingers smashed by the courts.

    That said, there are many legitimate Canadian companies who are true innovators and who do profit from America's patent system, a system which is widely recognized as the best in the world.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.patentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2008 @ 6:58pm

    Re: Ignorance is no excuse

    Wow, your BS is amazing.
    Where do you come up with this crap ?

     

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  13.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 3:17am

    Re: Ignorance is no excuse

    Michael Masnick, when are you going to invest the effort to understand patent issues?

    Ronald, I have. And I've even pointed you to the research where you too might learn about the patent system.

    Unfortunately for all of us, it appears that you've found a way to profit off of the existing broken system and have no interest in learning how it can be made much better for inventors and innovation.

     

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

  14.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 3:21am

    The “Little Person Syndrome”

    “Wow, your BS is amazing. Where do you come up with this crap ?”

    My BS is based on in depth knowledge of how the patent system works from the perspective of independent inventors. It is unfortunate that inventors must suffer at the hands of intellectual property thieves and ignorant fools. It is also a shame that TechDIRT seems to have a disproportionate share of the latter and that the problem is driven from the top down.

    Members of TechDIRT remind me of people on the public dole who come to have an entitlement mentality. Except in this case we have a bunch of people who are always late to the inventing party who think they should be able to take the fruits of other’s creativity and who rationalize that they are just as creative as the person who was there first. Personally I think it is a shame that many TechDIRT members wallow in self pity when they should be striving to become the FIRST to invent.

    I have long referred to this affliction as the “Little Person Syndrome”. Not physically little, just mentally too lazy to invest the effort to succeed and temperamentally prone to resent those who are willing to actually accomplish something.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.patentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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

  15.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 3:35am

    Re: The �Little Person Syndrome�

    My BS is based on in depth knowledge of how the patent system works from the perspective of independent inventors.

    You could have fooled us. And William Scott seems to indicate that you're abusing the system yourself to make money, not to help "independent inventors."

    Members of TechDIRT remind me of people on the public dole who come to have an entitlement mentality.

    Except that you're the one demanding a gov't handout in the form of a monopoly. We're the ones saying let the market decide. Which one seems more like an entitlement mentality?

    Personally I think it is a shame that many TechDIRT members wallow in self pity when they should be striving to become the FIRST to invent.

    Ronald, as a supposed (though, self-declared) "expert" on the patent system, I'm surprised at the above comment. After all, the patent system is not at all designed to protect those who were first to invent. It's designed to promote the progress. If the "first" to invent invents something that is obvious or hoards that invention and does not allow progress to be promoted, wouldn't you think that goes against the purpose of the patent system?

    Not physically little, just mentally too lazy to invest the effort to succeed and temperamentally prone to resent those who are willing to actually accomplish something.

    Ah, when in doubt, Ronald falls back on insults. Anyone who disagrees with him (even those with evidence and proof on their sides) must be unable to accomplish anything.

    However, from the reports out there, it's unclear what you've accomplished, while many of us here have accomplished a great deal -- including building up large and successful companies.

     

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  16.  
    icon
    Peter Blaise (profile), Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 10:15am

    Judge wait for the US Patent Office ... for up to

    Since the US Patent Office routinely is reported as having a 9-year pendancy or longer, I can't imagine claimants in court waiting for justice delayed, justice denied.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    william arlen scott esq., May 5th, 2008 @ 8:29pm

    Response to Ronald J. Riley

    Ronald J. Riley wants you to contribute to his organizations and websites. He'll be happy to take credit cards!

    Who is Ronald J. Riley? He is a self-proclaimed "expert" on patent law without any university training in the legalities of this field. He is not a Ph.D. on intellectual property rights and is not part of any effective lobbying group that could seriously lead to change. Ronald J. Riley has created several inventor related organizations with several websites and has appointed himself "President" and "Director" of these little known groups. If anyone is seriously looking for legal advice on patent law or the USPTO, you should consult with a qualified legal professional. Ronald J. Riley may have read a couple of books about patent law, but he is not an attorney or anyone to be taken seriously on these matters.

    The question is: how much money has he collected from unsuspecting "inventors" who believe what he says? Riley has never licensed a patent, has never made a dime in royalties and his organizations offer no financial assistance to inventors who truly have cutting edge intellectual property.

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Michael Schore, Feb 8th, 2010 @ 10:42am

    Blackboard Lawsuits?

    This may not be the place to ask but has any school sued Blackboard for their delivery of non-functioning, buggy software? My state is paying them millions and all we get when there is a problem is delays and double-talk. In the meantime, those of us in academia, are saddled with a poorly written piece of software. (My school has been using Blackboard since version 6 and the price keeps going up while the quality keeps going down.)

     

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


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