On March 25, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office issued its Non-Final
Action on the re-examination of the Blackboard Patent. We are studying
the document, found here, but in short, the PTO has rejected all 44 of
Blackboard’s claims. We caution that this is a NON-final action; both
Blackboard and Desire2Learn will have an opportunity to comment before
a final action will issue, and after that, the decision will be
subject to appeals.
This is good news, especially not only for Desire2Learn, but also users
of all online coursework delivery systems. Although I’m torn on the idea
of software patents, the ones awarded to Blackboard in my opinion did
not pass the obviousness test. Blackboard has gone on record that they
were not going to go after open source implementations like Moodle, but
I can’t help to think that just the idea that Blackboard could sue would
put a damper on some new Moodle installations.