US Patent & Trademark Office issues preliminary rejection of Blackboard patent

A busy day in RSS-Land. These just flew across my Google Reader account. Apparently the US Patent & Trademark Office (USP&TO) has issued a preliminary finding that rejects all 44 of Blackboard’s patent claims. According to both Desire2Learn and Blackboard, this is just the first step in a lengthy review process but it is interesting for those of us who have been following this saga. Desire2Learn has made a PDF copy of this finding available on their website here.

From Desire2Learn:

On March 25, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office issued its Non-Final Action on the re-examination of the Blackboard Patent. We are studying the document, found here, but in short, the PTO has rejected all 44 of Blackboard’s claims. We caution that this is a NON-final action; both Blackboard and Desire2Learn will have an opportunity to comment before a final action will issue, and after that, the decision will be subject to appeals.However, we’re still pleased.

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From Blackboard:

Dear Blackboard Community,

Today, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a first Office Action in the reexamination proceeding regarding Blackboard’s U.S. Patent 6,988,138 (“the ‘138 Patent”). This Office Action was expected and is the first step in a reexamination process that often takes years to complete. It has no effect on the validity of the patent, the lawsuit between Blackboard and Desire2Learn or the pending injunction against Desire2Learn.

We remain very confident in the strength of our patent and have provided more information about today’s announcement should you have questions. Please see www.blackboard.com/patent for more information.

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All of this follows on the heels of Blackboard’s victory in their lawsuit against Desire2Learn a few weeks ago.

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