Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft-funded Monopolist Claims 'Ownership' of “Alert Notification System” and Terrorises Competitors

"Mummy! These kids are competing against me!!"

WHAT TO DO when you cannot compete? Threaten or sue your rivals, according to Blackboard's (and Microsoft's) mentality.

# Blackboard Inc. vs. TechRadium Inc.

Plaintiff Blackboard, a Washington, D.C.-based company, claims to own the rights to U.S. Patent No. 6,816,878 issued Nov. 9, 2004, for an Alert Notification System.

Blackboard alleges that TechRadium of Sugar Land has infringed the '878 Patent through its products that employ TechRadium's IRIS (Immediate Response Information System) technology.

Here is the abstract of this patent. It demonstrates the insanity of the USPTO.

As we stated before, Blackboard was financially supported by Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4]. It also casts a shadow on Free software like Moodle or Sakai because of the controversial software patents it holds.

Apart from useless promises from Blackboard to F/OSS, worth bearing in mind is the Linux Defenders drive [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], which may be better than nothing as an interim solution. There is some new coverage of this in ZDNet UK (where software patents do not really apply).

A group has been formed to help protect Linux from being undermined by poor-quality software patents.

Linux Defenders, launched on Monday, aims to enlist the developer community's help in finding 'prior art' related to patents affecting open-source code. Prior art is information relevant to a claim of originality in a patent. If examples of work are collected that show an invention has been described in prior art before the patent was granted, then that patent is invalidated.

The sponsors of Linux Defenders are the Open Invention Network (OIN), the Software Freedom Law Center and the Linux Foundation.

It remains to be seen how effective it turns out to be. Following the hyped-up announcement, there was somewhat of an hibernation. Even Peer to Patent generates more press (and probably actual activity too).

Moreover, Linux Defender mostly covers kernel space, so projects such as Moodle or Sakai are outside its scope.

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