USPTO 0 : Bb 1

When you read this, what products come to mind?

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 available to the students over a network such as the Internet. Various levels of functionality are provided through a three-tiered licensing program that suits the needs of the institution offering the program. In addition, an open platform system is provided such that anyone with access to the Internet can create, manage, and offer a course to anyone else with access to the Internet without the need for an affiliation with an institution, thus enabling the virtual classroom to extend worldwide. (Bold added.)

Apparently the USPTO awarded a patent to a company that makes course management systems. US Patent Office Strikes Again: Awards Broad Patent to Blackboard | Academic Commons

So now, everyone else who designs a course management system can come under a lawsuit. The USPTO scares me. I’m not really saying Blackboard should not have gotten the CMS patent. It is just that “a patent for an invention is a grant of property rights by the U.S. Government through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.” [USPTO FAQ] So if I make something that violates another’s patent, then they can sue me. So Blackboard has filed a lawsuit against Desire2Learn.

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