Well, it has been one week and four days since we (the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system) upgraded to Desire2Learn’s version 8.3. While upgrading to this latest learning environment brought the promise of a number of feature enhancements, the impetus behind getting us [and the rest of D2L's American clients] to this latest version – in record time - was to be able to keep the doors open on our mission-critical web-based learning environment for our system’s 200,000+ users. [We get over 20 million hits a day during the academic year]. Version 8. 3 WAS the wormhole to an alternatate patent infringement-free universe. [See my prior posts for the two-year Blackboard vs. D2L lawsuit history.]
The ink isn’t dry yet on our change document and Blackboard is back in the ring. It it took only one week and two days post our version 8.3 upgrade for them to re-enter the Texas court system, this time with a contempt motion. Blackboard claims the 8.3 learning environment “did not sufficiently correct its software to remove code and features that infringe on Blackboard’s e-learning patent.”
I just finished reading what is probably the best and most informative article on this 2-year battle and recent legal action, “Blackboard Continues Pursuit of Desire2Learn,” written by David Nagel in Campus Technology (June 18, 2008). In the article he asks and gets answers to some burning questions we have all bandied about. Here’s a teaser for you:
BB keeps saying that should Desire2Learn “not prevail with its 8.3 attempted design-around, or should they not survive financially,” they would be committed to working with D2L’s clients to make sure they find a solution that doesn’t interrupt their online programs. Well, Nagel has the chutzpah to ask BB executives just what they mean by this, if not the obvious.
How about this one? Would BB go after individual institutions or schools who continue to use D2L? You’ll have to read the article to find out (clue: p.3).
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In an interesting turn of the tables, Blackboard now finds itself in court on the defense side of things. TechRadium Inc., a Sugar Land, Texas-based technology company, filed a patent infringement lawsuit Monday May 19th against Blackboard in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. TechRadium is claiming that NTI Inc., a recent Blackboard acquisition, is selling products which are in violation of TechRadium’s patent.
The lawsuit involves a mass communication messaging system, something campuses nationwide began implementing immediately after the Virginia Tech incident. TechRadium’s messaging system allows for the sending of a single message to mulitiple types of devices. One message can be sent to ”cell phones, pagers, standard landline telephones and e-mail,” according to TechRadium’s complaint. Before TechRadium was on the scene, company officials claim, mass messaging systems required the sending of separate messages for each type of receiving device. With TechRadium’s technology, multiple messaging was eliminated, streamlining the burdensome device-tracking and message-sending processes.
TechRadium is seeking compensation for “lost profits, reasonable royalties and other litigation-related costs,” though no dollar figures have been set. NIT, Inc. also is seeking an injunction against Blackboard to stop “future sales of the alleged infringing products”. Compensation for royalties, and injunctions…where have I heard those words recently?
-Source: Washington Business Journal, June 4, 2008
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