Hope for IP Law?

Just when I had pretty much become convinced that the laws governing intellectual property and copyright had become completely impotent, a ray of hope appears in the form of the U.S. Patent Office’s agreement to re-examine Blackboard’s patent on e-learning systems.

Last year Blackboard was awarded a patent on these systems, an action that would ostensibly allow them to sue dozens of competitors – corporate and open-source alike – right out of business. Thousands of schools and districts that have come to rely on packages like Moodle and eChalk to provide web-based access to class and school information would suddenly have to switch mid-stream to the balky and expensive Blackboard product. I don’t think anyone viewed this as a valid example of the patent system encouraging innovation – and I’m glad to see that the Patent Office may finally be coming to its senses. Definitely a story worth keeping an eye on in the months to come…

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