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February 23, 2008


Blackboard suing competitor Desire2Learn for infringing 6,988,138 spurred academic outrage, but a hillbilly east Texas jury paid the pointy-heads no heed, awarding $3 million in damages.

The jury, after deliberating much of Thursday and Friday morning, awarded Blackboard $2.5 million for lost profits and $630,000 in royalties.

The trial had lasted two weeks; 22 witnesses testified, some by video.

Desire2Learn's continuing cry is that the patent was anticipated by prior art. Some university customers rallied to the cause, with prior art punting in Wikipedia to boot the patent, but it came to naught.

Blackboard, raking in $239.4 million in 2007, is by far the largest company selling course-management software. Desire2Learn, by contrast, is a hard-scrabble upstart, started by John Baker in 1999, in an old loft with enough room to play floor hockey in. Certainly they're pucked now.

But Ontario-based Desire2Learn, a little slow to catch on and take a license, vows to fight on. Baker, CEO: "We're going to continue to fight them in the courts and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office." Ontario-based Research in Motion, wireless Blackberry maker, took a similar hell-bent attitude, costing them dearly: in the finale, $612.5 million, sourly extracted. Whatever else they may do, Ontario patent infringers stubbornly trudge on to maximize self-inflicted damage.

Desire2Learn's collegiate customers are fretting that it could raise the cost of the software. Edward Meachen, computing poo-bah for the University of Wisconsin: "This is a problem." The concept of intellectual property is not exactly on Ed's radar.

Posted by Patent Hawk at February 23, 2008 7:04 PM | Damages


Hawk, rightly or wrongly, I would characterize your tone as "Life's not fair. Better get used to it" which strikes me as a bit ironic, given that the factor that raises the costs of litigation in USA, to orders of magnitude higher than anywhere else in the world is....wait for it....equity.

Posted by: MaxDrei at February 24, 2008 5:59 AM