Blackboard Trial Against Desire2Learn Goes to Court


Just a week after higher education software maker Blackboard announced "tremendous" financial results for the year, it is finally facing off in a small-town Texas court against rival Desire2Learn in a patent dispute over e-learning software. Blackboard is seeking $17 million in lost revenue as well as an injunction against the company, which is based in Canada.

Immediately after receiving a patent on its course management system in 2006, the larger company filed suit against Desire2Learn, claiming patent infringement.

Many participants in the e-learning community charged that the patent award was overly broad and ignored previous offerings in the e-learning space. The response became so heated that Blackboard eventually issued a "legally binding" guarantee promising never to take legal action against participants in three open-source projects, Moodle, Sakai, and ATutor.

For its part, Desire2Learn has challenged the patent. But no decision has been made yet by the federal patent office on the validity of the original claim.

According to a report in The Chronicle of Higher Education Blackboard president, Michael Chasen, reiterated that point on day one of the trial, stating that "his company had no intention of suing colleges that use open-source software to create their own course-management systems."

Desire2Learn has around 500 clients in the United States, compared with Blackboard's 2,400.

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About the author: Dian Schaffhauser covers high tech, business and higher education for a number of publications. Contact her at [email protected].

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About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.