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Blackboard Inc.'s Patents Invalidated

Blackboard Inc. has been in the news lately for its growing dominance in providing learning-management systems, particularly with its acquisition of ANGEL Learning earlier this year. But the Washington-based company received a blow this week when a federal appeals court invalidated more than three dozen of its patents on online learning-management systems. You can find news and blog coverage here.

The company has been in litigation over its patents since 2006, when it sued Canadian rival Desire2Learn for patent infringement. It is unclear how this decision might affect an earlier $3 million judgment for Blackboard in that case.

Here's some background from the Washington Business Journal.

A statement from Desire2Learn said the company is "pleased" with the decision.

"This decision has affirmed what we believed to be the case all along. It is a true victory for Desire2Learn and all of education," President and CEO John Baker said in the statement. "Despite the challenges along the way, we have the educational community to thank for supporting us through this lengthy process. We have always been, and will continue to be, about meeting the needs of our clients in their pursuit of advancing teaching and learning."

Blackboard's chief business officer, Matt Small, said Blackboard is disappointed with the decision and will seek further judicial review.

"The Federal Circuit’s decision does not affect Blackboard’s other patents or other efforts currently open in our effort to resolve the intellectual property disagreement we have with Desire2Learn," his statement says. "While we continue to pursue a resolution through the available channels, we remain focused on helping to engage learners and advance student achievement. In that regard, we continue to stand by our Patent Pledge, the legally-binding, worldwide commitment we made not to assert the patents listed in the Pledge against the use, development, or support of open source or home-grown course management systems that are not bundled with proprietary software."

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