The Arizona Desert Lamp

Blackboard v. D2L

Posted in 10451739, Campus by Evan Lisull on 28 August 2008

Interesting developments in the war between the two biggest course-webpage companies, Blackboard and Desire2Learn (D2L):

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has rejected a request by Blackboard Inc. for a temporary halt in the office’s review of a software patent the company holds concerning course-management systems.

This year Blackboard won a lawsuit in federal court against a rival software company, Desire2Learn, for violating the patent, though Desire2Learn has appealed the decision. Meanwhile, Desire2Learn had formally challenged the validity of the patent with the patent office, arguing that it is overly broad and covers technology that other companies had developed before Blackboard filed its patent. The patent office issued an initial verdict in March that rejected all 44 of the claims that make up Blackboard’s patent. But that review is “nonfinal,” meaning that the review is still underway.

It looks like there ultimately won’t be much impact on campus. When it looked as though Blackboard’s suit would carry the day, D2L seemed on its way out. However, even though Blackboard will lose their patents, it probably won’t be enough to put them out of business; instead, they will have simply missed a chance to knock out their chief competitor. From a purely aesthetic level, it would be nice for SBS and the other departments to move over the Blackboard, but the costs are probably prohibitive, especially with the budget situation being what it is.

Another option worth considering is Moodle, an open-source software that, while not entirely free, is far more cost-effective than either option on campus currently.

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