I have taken a particular interest in the application of Blackboard’s patent applications and patents in Australia, the home of a number of innovative LMS systems including the open source Moodle project.
IP Australia, the Australian Government’s intellectual property organisation, provides a handy patent search facility; a search for the applicant “Blackboard” revealed that 5 of Blackboard’s 30 patents granted and pending are lodged in Australia. These are titled:
- Internet-based education support system and method with multi-language capability (22May03)
- Internet-based education support system, method and medium providing security attributes in modular, extensible components (19Aug03)
- Internet-based education support system, method and medium with modular text-editing component for use in a web-based application (19Aug03)
- Content system and associated methods (13Aug04)
- Internet-based education support system and methods (28Jul05)
The patents cover other e-learning technologies and specifications other than the 44 claimed in Blackboard’s first patent to be granted in the United States. It appears that they could potentially be claiming to have invented Learning Objects (or LMS extensions), multi-language LMS, embedded HTML text editors, as well as the original claims of many core functions of LMS systems.
I will be researching the specific claims of Blackboard’s other patent claims in Australia and will post my findings.