Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus (aka the SFLC)
Slashdot reports today that:
“Groklaw is reporting that the US Patent and Trademark Office has just ordered a re-examination of the e-learning patent owned by Blackboard Inc, thanks to a filing by the Software Freedom Law Center. SFLC’s press release states, ‘The Patent Office found that prior art cited in SFLC’s request raises “a substantial new question of patentability” regarding all 44 claims of Blackboard’s patent…’ The SFLC explains that though such re-examinations may take a couple of years to complete, approximately ‘70% of re-examinations are successful in having a patent narrowed or completely revoked.'”
The Blackboard patent, and subsequent suit against competitor Desire2Learn, has been widely reported. Here’s an overview of the patent application as well as a subsequent comparison with Elgg’s functions that I did last year.