Blackboard sort of does a patent pledge

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Today Blackboard, a company in the education and course management area, announced a patent pledge:

Specifically, the Pledge commits Blackboard not to assert U.S. Patent No. 6,988,138 and many other pending patent applications against the development, use or distribution of open source software or home-grown course management systems anywhere in the world, to the extent that such systems are not bundled with proprietary software.

This has been a major controversy in the education industry because of the swiftly rising popularity of open source packages like Sakai and Moodle. It’s the last bit about not bundling with proprietary software that might cause this to be problematic.

Many people today use a blend of open source and proprietary software. That is, it is rare to find an environment that is either all open or all proprietary. So while I’m sure many people will appreciate the step in the open direction, they are not sure if this will end being a quarter step or a half step.


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