Blackboard Inc.

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Blackboard Inc.
Type Public (NASDAQBBBB)
Founded Washington, D.C. 1997
Headquarters Flag of the United States Washington, D.C., United States
Area served Worldwide
Key people Matthew L. Pittinsky Chairman of the Board Michael L. Chasen President, Chief Executive Officer, Director
Industry Educational Software
Products Blackboard Academic Suite, Blackboard Commerce Suite
Revenue US$ 239.45 million (2007)[1]
Operating income US$ 19.96 million (2007)
Net income US$ 12.87 million (2007)
Employees 890 (Jun 2008)

Blackboard Inc. (NASDAQBBBB) is a software company based in Washington, D.C. Blackboard went public in June 2004.


[edit] Products

Blackboard develops and licenses software applications and related services to over 2200 education institutions in more than 60 countries. These institutions use Blackboard software to manage e-learning, transaction processing and e-commerce, and online communities. Blackboard's product line includes:

  • The Blackboard Commerce Suite, consisting of
    • The Blackboard Transaction System, a Transaction Processing System tied to university IDs
    • The Blackboard Community System, an e-commerce front end for the Transaction System
    • Bb One, a network of commercial and retail business that accept Blackboard-powered debit card transactions

Though Blackboard software is closed source, the company provides an open architecture, called Building Blocks, that can be used to extend the functionality of Blackboard products. The Blackboard Vista and Campus Edition products are extensible through a technology called PowerLinks.

[edit] Blackboard legal issues

Blackboard Inc. headquarters at 650 Massachusetts Ave NW, in Washington, D.C.
  • On October 17, 2000, Blackboard Inc. filed and won a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Control against a company called Cupcake Patrol for control of the domain name "," which lacks the last 'r' before the final character.
  • In April 2003, the company sued security researchers Billy Hoffman and Virgil Griffith for publishing, and planning to present, a paper highlighting security flaws in their Blackboard Transaction System.
  • On January 17, 2006, Blackboard was granted US patent 6,988,138 on "Internet-based education support system and methods" (with other multinational patents having been issued or pending) with claims over features of course management systems (U.S. Patent 6,988,138 ). Some of the claims include making announcements, assigning projects, providing course information, and letting students see their grades online.
  • On July 26, 2006, the company issued a press release regarding its patent portfolio and on that day filed a lawsuit against Desire2Learn (D2L), another course management system provider, for patent infringement, using the above patent to assert its rights under US patent law. The Complaint was filed in Federal Court in the Eastern District of Texas, Lufkin Division, a rural East Texas judicial district. Desire2Learn has posted a Patent Information page which comprehensively documents Blackboard's complaint against them.
  • After the announcement of the lawsuit against Desire2Learn, some in the e-learning community felt that the patent award ignored prior art on e-learning and distance education and started a Wikipedia page, History of virtual learning environments, and a Moodle Docs wiki page, Online Learning History, to document existing examples of course management systems.
  • Because of concern over the patent claims, some in the e-learning community protested by calling for a boycott of Blackboard. See, for example, A web site against education patents, with a lot of information about the patent has been created:
  • On 9 August 2006, a complaint was filed against Blackboard, Inc. by Portaschool of Atlanta, GA in the United States District Court of the Northern District of Georgia for deceptive business practices, and knowingly and willingly misrepresenting themselves in a patent application.
  • On January 25, 2007 it was announced that the Software Freedom Law Center was successful in its request that the United States Patent and Trademark Office re-examine the e-learning patent owned by Blackboard Inc. The request was filed in November 2006 on the behalf of Sakai, Moodle, and ATutor. 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. Groklaw, a website that tracks legal issues generally related to Open Source software, has the press release:
  • On February 1, 2007, Blackboard announced via press release "The Blackboard Patent Pledge". In this pledge to the open source and do-it-yourself course management community, the company vows to forever refrain from asserting its patent rights against open-source developers, except when it is itself sued for patent infringement.
  • On February 22, 2008 a Texas jury found Desire2Learn liable for infringing on the Blackboard, Inc. patent.
  • On March 25, 2008, the US patent office issued a non-final action rejecting all 44 claims of Blackboard's patent.[2]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^
  2. ^ Rejection of Blackboard's patent Retrieved November 11, 2008

[edit] External links

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