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LoD Viewpoints September 2006

Blackboard's Patent and Open-Source Learning Software

Blackboard's recent course-management system patent has generated alarm across the eLearning industry and is at odds with the trend toward greater use of open-source software in learning. Oracle is dealing with open source in a quite different way—by contributing to open-source LMS Sakai. This Viewpoints reviews these developments and discusses implications for the eLearning industry.

Is Blackboard regretting its course-management patent and subsequent lawsuit against Desire2Learn? Numerous articles, blogs, meetings, conference calls, and wiki entries have severely criticized Blackboard for its actions—and the vast majority of this criticism comes from Blackboard's core customer base of U.S. universities (criticism has also come from universities and related institutions in other countries around the world). Whatever the legal rights and wrongs, and whatever one's ethical stance, Blackboard's move is starting to look like plain bad business. Blogger Lanny Arvan from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign summed up the situation: "I do know enough about economics to understand that goodwill is a non-tangible asset with real market value and it is not hard for me to see that under certain assumptions that Blackboard could take a hit in the goodwill department beyond what it ever might recover in royalties and deterrence benefits."

Download the report here:
Blackboard's Patent and Open-Source Learning Software