Sakai Update on Blackboard Patent Rejection

Today the Sakai Foundation released it’s formal statement commenting on the recent US Patent and Trademark Office action regarding the Blackboard Patent:

As you probably already know, we learned on Friday, March 28 that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued a non-final action rejecting all 44 claims in Blackboard’s U.S. Patent 6,988,138 as invalid. In 2006, the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) requested a re-examination of that patent on behalf of the ATutor Community, the Moodle Community, the Sakai Foundation and the rest of the free and open source software world. The USPTO combined the SFLC request with a similar request from Desire2Learn. This rejection of the patent is good news for the education community and supports what we have believed all along–that the patent in question should never have been issued in the first place.

Because the SFLC request was accepted essentially without modification, their work on the re-examination is essentially complete and this concludes the current relationship between the SFLC and Moodle/ATutor/Sakai. We would like to thank the SFLC for their work on behalf of the entire open source community. We wish them continued success.

This hopefully marks the beginning of the end of this unfortunate and distracting chapter in the evolution of learning and collaboration software. In 2005, multiple companies and open source communities were productively innovating and competing to provide a range of educational tools. It is widely believed that the patent lawsuit impeded this healthy marketplace. At a time when there is considerable public pressure on the cost of education, this multi-million dollar patent distraction is not helpful. ATutor, Moodle and Sakai all urge a definitive end to this distraction that has been harmful to the free expression of ideas and tools for education. We believe the USPTO non-final ruling provides a basis to put this patent matter behind us and resume productive work without distraction. We urge all involved to make that so.

Best regards,

Michael Korcuska
Executive Director, Sakai Foundation
on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Sakai Foundation

I may have more to say about this later. In the meantime, links about the re-examination you might find useful:

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2 Responses

  1. […] Software Freedom Law Center). You’ll remember that the re-examination initially resulted in all claims of that patent being rejected. As part of this process Blackboard is able to change the wording of the patent to make it […]

  2. […] Freedom Law Center filed a reexamination request with the USPTO. Those claims were, in fact, invalidated by the USPTO. And now the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of Desire2Learn in the original […]

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