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Blackboard vs. Desire2Learn: Is it over at last?


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July 28, 2009

Despite the fact that I still own a nice chunk of shares in Blackboard, I was rather disappointed, even angry, with my former employer for sueing Desire2Learn based on patent infringement.

I believe in achievement through merit, not bullying, and Blackboard's the bully in this case. Now, IANAL, but I've heard it said that companies must defend their patents or risk losing (or weakening) them; well, as a software engineer with three decades of computing experience under my belt, I also feel strongly that software patents are a bad, bad! idea.

Software patents are like patenting a style of walking, lifting a paint brush, tossing your head, or short phrases of speech. Software patents are just wrong.

So, I'm rather happy to report that on Monday, a federal judge invalidated Blackboard's 1999 patent [PDF], hopefully putting an end to this travesty and letting both parties move on with what they're supposed to be doing: Creating software to support and improve the learning process online.

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