Wired Campus: Blackboard Sues U.S. Patent Office
Just when you thought the patent fight over course-management software couldn’t get any more confusing, Blackboard Inc. went to federal court to sue the United States Patent and Trademark Office, seeking to overturn a recent decision concerning Blackboard’s controversial patent on course-management software.
The issue at stake is who decides whether or not Blackboard’s patent is valid. Right now the patent is being challenged on two fronts:
- Front one is the courts. Blackboard sued its biggest competitor, Desire2Learn, arguing that the Canada-based company violated Blackboard’s patent with its course-management software. On that front Blackboard is winning. In march a federal jury in Texas awarded Blackboard $3.1-million, finding that Desire2Learn did infringe the company’s patent. Desire2Learn has appealed the decision, and it modified its software in response to the court decision.
- Front two is the patent office’s own review process. Desire2Learn has challenged the validity of Blackboard’s patent, and the office is working through a formal reexamination of it. On this front Desire2Learn is winning big. In an initial ruling issued this year, the patent office struck down all 44 claims in the Blackboard patent.