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Network World - A firestorm of controversy is spreading in the education community over attempts by key software vendor Blackboard to enforce its patent claims.
It's a case in which the level of vitriol and vilification is making the long-running and now-settled patent battle between Research in Motion and NTP look like high tea at the Ritz. There are claims, counterclaims, a civil suit, an extraordinary demand from a higher-education IT group and a mounting torrent of blog postings.
The spark ignited in late July, when Blackboard, by far the dominant vendor of learning management software, announced it had been awarded a U.S. patent earlier this year for some elements of its software, the Blackboard Learning System.
|A short history of the Blackboard patent battle|
The spark was fanned when rival Desire2Learn (D2L) revealed publicly that on the same day Blackboard issued the press release, it also filed suit in U.S. District Court charging D2L with infringing on that patent.
The latest legal move occurred last week, when a federal District Court judge in Texas ruled that a Desire2Learn counterclaim could stand. D2L alleges "intentional misconduct" by Blackboard officials in failing to notify the Patent Office of prior art" - or ideas and inventions by others that could undermine the patent claims.
The next move is scheduled for early December, when the two sides meet for a pretrial scheduling conference. A tentative trial date of February 2008 has been set.