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Education Patents The Courts

Blackboard Patent Invalidated By Appellate Court 142

Arguendo writes "A federal appeals court ruled Monday that Blackboard Inc.'s patent on a learning management system is invalid in light of the inventors' own prior software product. We have previously discussed the patent and Blackboard's trial court victory against Desire2Learn. It's not completely over, but this is almost certainly the death knell for Blackboard's patent. If so inclined, you may read the appellate court's decision here (PDF) or on scribd."
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Blackboard Patent Invalidated By Appellate Court

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  • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @11:44AM (#28853473) Homepage Journal

    I'm sorry that you guys don't like it, but it's OK for people to want to make money off their ideas.

    As a capitalist, I wholeheartedly agree. As a citizen, I disagree with the government's grant of exclusive rights on something as nebulous as a software algorithm (as opposed to a specific implementation of that algorithm). Make money off your ideas all you want. I do! Just don't expect to make money of the sole act of having thought them.

  • by Broken scope ( 973885 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @11:45AM (#28853493) Homepage
    Patents should protect your exclusive right to produce a device/product/whateverthefucktheyareactuallysupposedtoprotect, not protect your "right" to an entire market.
  • by Timothy Brownawell ( 627747 ) <> on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @11:48AM (#28853561) Homepage Journal

    Every time there's a patent article on slashdot, the summary and comments all just ooze with thinly-veiled contempt for our free market system.

    In what way are government-granted monopolies considered a "free market"? It seems kinda like the opposite.

    it's OK for people to want to make money off their ideas.

    An if you're actually competent, you can do that without crippling all your potential competitors and causing net harm to the economy.

  • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @12:01PM (#28853737)
    I'm probably one of the most capitalist people you will ever meet, but patents != free market capitalism. Lets see, the government is giving a monopoly to a product. Thats not very capitalist. Patents are not free market capitalism.
  • by ammorais ( 1585589 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @12:10PM (#28853893)

    I'm sorry that you guys don't like it, but it's OK for people to want to make money off their ideas. Wanting to make lots of money is at the core of our system. You aren't going to change that.

    You are kidding right. Do you really think someone who is intellectually honest, and it isn't biased, and with two fingers of intelligence will agree with something like this:

    A system and methods for implementing education online by providing institutions with the means for allowing the creation of courses to be taken by students online, the courses including assignments, announcements, course materials, chat and whiteboard facilities, and the like, all of which are...

    You are kidding right. Do you know how vague this "idea" is, and how many possibilities it range? Do you really think this is an original idea, or the natural way technology evolve. Maybe they can also patent networks on the moon since we probably are going there and will need networks.

  • by cvd6262 ( 180823 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @12:51PM (#28854631)

    I want to run away from their product even if the patents are not invalidated.

    Yeah, we did run away and for years my little college has been happily using a competitor's product... Until this last year when Bb bought them out.

  • by SecurityGuy ( 217807 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @12:54PM (#28854681)

    Seconded. The problem with patents is not their exclusivity. It's not the people get to make money from their ideas. The problem is that people get exclusive rights to make money off commonplace ideas that anyone faced with the problem would think of. This should not happen. Patents are allegedly only available for novel and non-obvious inventions. The problem is that obvious inventions are being granted patents.

  • by SecurityGuy ( 217807 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @01:04PM (#28854867)

    Drug companies are a great example, and how patents should work. If it costs you half a billion dollars to bring the next wonder drug to market, we as a society have a vested interest in you making more than half a billion dollars back. We want you to be profitable, because we want you (and people like you) to keep producing wonder drugs. We provide legal protection to make you money because we want to provide you with an incentive to invest time and money.

    The parasitic case that gets everyone's back up is when some guy gets a simple idea, often one that either 1,000 people already had and didn't patent because it was trivial and not patent worthy, and patents it. There is no societal benefit to giving a pot of gold to the first person to think of something when -anyone- faced with the same problem would design a substantially similar solution at a cost of next to nothing. Beneficial things that cost nearly nothing to think up will continue to be produced because they're part of doing your job or running your business.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @01:37PM (#28855393)

    Prior art is not "somebody patented it already". Prior art is "somebody published it already".

    If I publish a description of a new invention, then five years later decide I'd like to patent it because it's making money, I'm too late. My own published description from five years previously is prior art.

    So Blackboard publish software embodying an "invention". Several years later they patent that "invention". The original software is prior art and invalidates the patent.

  • by migla ( 1099771 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:21PM (#28857205)

    Pfff.. You think there's much anti-capitalism? No there isn't. Not even enough of it.

    We're soaking in capitalism and marketing and shit every day, here on slashdot and most everywhere else. Freemarketism is the fucking baseline of human culture in the west.

  • Second Blackboard is a leading industry LMS provider - they are really good at what they do.
    Really good at convincing the powers that be to buy thier shitware and force it on us yes.

  • Re:Yay. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PeterBrett ( 780946 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @06:07PM (#28859793) Homepage

    Perhaps because universities would like to prevent people from auditing courses that they didn't pay for.

    Are you kidding me? It's called a "university" for a reason.

    As a datum: at the university I attended (which, coincidentally, has produced several of the greatest polymaths in history), once you are at the university, you are permitted -- encouraged, even -- to attend any lecture courses that interest you or may assist you in your studies. (Of course, that doesn't apply to lab experiments or experimental coursework).

    If you suggested to someone there that the university should start excluding students from courses which they haven't "paid for", you'd get funny looks. The fact that there are institutions with quite such a mercenary approach to their students doesn't say much for their academic credentials, frankly.

  • by Wildclaw ( 15718 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @06:07PM (#28859799)

    Yes slashdot is anti-capitalist to some degree. Slashdot users are in general pretty interested in freedom issues. You'll find a pretty big support for the free market, but far less support for some of the capitalistic ideas that aren't based around the free market. Intellectual property being an example of that.

    The best argument for copyright and patents is basically that atleast it should ensure that stuff is invented and created, however costly it is to society otherwise. But when you see the current capitalistic exploitations going on, even that argument starts to lose its colors. And you are basically left with the argument that it is capitalistic to assign ownership to everything. An arugment that simply isn't productive nor seen as inherently true by those who use their brains.

    I do find slashdotters resistance to specifically software patents somewhat telling though. Software patents aren't really special. They just affect most people here directly. You can't get anything done if you have to watch out for patent mindfields? Well, that is exactly how people feel in other fields also. Reality is colored by your point of view.

Today is the first day of the rest of your lossage.