No roles: Latest in the D2L patent suit

This isn’t really an update on the overall progress of the D2L/Bb lawsuit or an update on the USPTO reexamination of the patent, but I was interested, technically, in what D2L would do to its latest version to render it non-infringing.

Basically, they’ve eliminated all roles from their system at the time of installation. The customer has to set them up from scratch. They had been providing “sample roles” that could be used as the basis of creating the roles that would actually be used–even those were judged to be “predetermined roles,” one of the key elements in the lawsuit.  D2L provided the court with a relatively (by legal standards) brief and clear description of what they did, which is worth a read.  Their recent post on their patent blog also includes links to more documents, including Bb’s contempt filing (saying that D2L hadn’t addressed the injunction requiring them to stop selling/using an infringing version).

There is a fair amount of absurdity in all this. The fact that a patent can be issued about this (although it hopefully will be found invalid or at least weakened beyond the point of usefulness) and the fact that it can be avoided by a change like this (although I’m sure this isn’t the end of this thread either–whether it still infringes could be brought to a jury) seem almost comical to me.

Take the following from the court documents:

Desire2Learn now deletes all roles from a client’s existing system before it installs version 8.3, so that when a client begins using version 8.3, it contain [sic] no roles.  This is a substantial change in how version 8.3 operates and is provided to clients – requiring clients to undertake the painstaking process required to create roles and set associated permissions manually – as confirmed by the uncontested declarations signed by Desire2Learn clients.

This seems like a disparagement of D2L…perhaps something a disgruntled customer would write. But, in fact, it is D2L themselves writing this in their own defense. It’s completely through the looking glass…

I see the losers: the customers who have to do more administrative work to have their systems work in a reasonable way. I see the winners: The lawyers collecting fees from both sides (out of the license payments to D2L and Bb). I know there is a broader perspective, here, but reading through the description of the actual technical change struck me as a interesting end-point (which it won’t be!) to years of time and millions of dollars and lots of bad feelings….

Michael Feldstein has blogged about this as well (with a comment from Chuck Severance) and is currently at the D2L conference. I’m sure he’ll have more to say in the days and weeks ahead.


2 Responses

  1. […] – bookmarked by 1 members originally found by ziobrando on 2008-12-13 No roles: Latest in the D2L patent suit – bookmarked by 4 members originally […]

  2. […] roles to the same user in different courses under the same login credentials. I wrote about this previously. Of course it is entirely possible that the new patent allows an additional line of attack against […]

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