The utility or futility of patenting software aside, a major breakthrough has been achieved. The E-Learning Management System Blackboard had obtained Patent Number 6,988,138 on what was obvious prior art to anyone but the patent office.
Desire2Learn had sued over the patent and lost, which got the open-source projects Sakai, Moodle and Atutor to start their own actions against Blackboard using the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC). They argued that Blackboard was just implementing the IMS standard. And so the ruling handed down a few days ago by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected all of the Blackboard patents. Blackboard lied by not revealing well-known prior art.
The ruling can still be appealed, but it is wonderful to see the Patent office beginning to see that it was silly to have believed that Blackboard invented E-Learning Management Systems!
Blackboard is preparing for it's yearly conference by getting its toe wet in the Web 2.0 and has opened up a Facebook group for pre-conference communication. I just posted the link to the ruling there at . Wonder how long the link will remain posted :)
Update 1.4. (no April Fool's Joke): No longer than 16 hours. Jan Day writes:
Subject: Your post about the patent
I wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know I saw your post about the recent USPTO ruling on the Blackboard Patent. While it is timely information, I removed the post because it isn't related to BbWorld'08. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this I'm happy to set up some time to chat.
Thanks for being part of the BbWorld'08 Facebook group. I hope to see you in Las Vegas this July.
Nope. Won't be there.