The Blackboard patent is under discsussion at Slashdot, see
I wonder how long before it descends into a discussion on the virtues of Gun ownership
Patents corresponding to the U.S. patent have been issued or are pending all over the world including in the European Union
Well, they are pending and they will be for a while in the European Union, as software patents are not legal in the EU.
However, he [Blackboard VP Small] also said that had Blackboard not merged with WebCT, then WebCT would have been infringing the patent.That suggests to me that Moodle, Sakai, UCompass, Angel and all the other course management systems are at risk. No, Blackboard isn't likely to sue schools and universities (after all they are all potential customers) but you can bet they'll play the, "You know, if you go to market with XXXX product you will be violating our patent" threat to the hilt against anyone who produces course management software (anyone who might take a customer away from them) including Moodle Pty Ltd and the Sakai Foundation.
Clearly they went after Desire2Learn because it is Bb's next biggest commercial competitor after WebCT which it bought last year. It would be harder to sue the open source systems like Moodle (Who would you sue - Martin?).
This discussion has focused on learning management systems in the education area. There are also at least 100 LMS competitors in the corporate sector - Saba, SumTotal Systems, Plateau, Training Partner, GeoLearning, Learn.com, etc., etc. The first four of these also existed prior to 1997 (when Blackboard started). SumTotal Systems was previously known as Click2Learn and, before that Asymetrix - makers of ToolBook and founded by Paul Allen in 1984.
The way I read the patent, Blackboard could also go up against all of these people. This is indeed scary and we should support Desire2Learn (a smaller but good Canadian company). At http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=31833 you can read the story of a New Zealand actor who convinced the patent office to re-examine Amazon's "one-click" patent (which, I believe, was among the first patents for an idea). He claims that a previous patent was issued for essentially the same thing. If anyone received a patent or submitted a patent application prior to 1999 we would have a case. Is that likely?