Court Strikes Down Blackboard E-Learning Patent
from the took-'em-long-enough dept
You may recall that Blackboard, an e-learning company, got itself a patent a while back that seemed to cover pretty much all e-learning — and then went about suing others. After a lot of controversy, the company agreed not to sue open source e-learning companies, but everyone else was fair game. The only problem? The patent was almost certainly ridiculous, and numerous thorough breakdowns of the patent raised serious questions about how it ever was approved in the first place. But, of course, the process of invalidating a patent is notoriously slow, and a company can cause lots of trouble in the meantime. In Blackboard’s case, it went after competitor Desire2Learn.
Even as the Patent Office realized it needed to rethink the patent, the lawsuit moved forward, with Blackboard scoring a win. Of course, just weeks later, the USPTO gave an initial rejection of the patent. The original court ruling was (of course) appealed (separate from the USPTO ruling), and the good news is that the appeals court has dumped the entire patent. Only took a few years and millions of dollars wasted in legal fees for Desire2Learn. Too bad such money couldn’t have gone towards actually improving e-learning. In the meantime, why doesn’t anyone ask how such a patent got approved in the first place?