More BlackBoard v. Sakai News

Thu Feb 1 12:15:26 2007 EST (-0500 GMT)

eLearning Held PrisonerApparently my blog has become, between the Smashing Pumpkins and car postings, a bit a of a reference about BlackBoard’s U.S. Patent No. 6,988,138 – their patent of the electronic teaching and learning of human beings.

BlackBoard (Bb) now owns it’s major competition, WebCT, which is the tool that consumes most of my day job.

In previous posts I commented on what I thought of the patent (BlackBoard goes Metallica) and on the uproar that ensued when Matthew Smalls et al. from Bb agreed to be on a panel at Sakai’s (one of the main two open source alternatives) Atlanta conference in December (Bb v. SFLC, Sakai, Moglen, rational thinkers, et al.,Follow up with the Bb team).

Today Bb issued a non-enforcement pledge that seems to have pleased both Sakai and EDUCAUSE who issued a joint statement shortly afterwards, with some reservations.

I’d have to agree with Sakai and EDUCAUSE both in that this removes any threat to open source groups and educational institutions and that this is an appropriate move on Bb’s part. That said, the Software Freedom Law Center’s move to invalidate this overly broad patent should continue.

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