Monday, March 10, 2008

Blackboard Lies and Liars

Blackboard is working hard on becoming the most hated corporation in the education market. Anyone paying attention will easily come to the conclusion that these people do not play fair; are not collegial in any way , shape, or form; and fully deserve to be shunned by the educational industry that they seek to monopolize.

More dirt about Blackboard comes from the information released by D2L in their response to BB's Motion for Permanent Injunction. See pages 10-11 of 18.

"In the past three years, Bb has made two requests to the government of the United States for assistance in helping Bb avoid competing in a free and open market. Bb successfully advocated to the United States Department of Justice that Bb’s absorption of the second-largest CMS provider in the market would not adversely affect competition, in large part because its competitor, D2L, had “continuing momentum” that would prevent Bb from having undue market power after the merger. However, almost immediately upon completing its merger, Bb turned to this Court and now asks the Court to enter a permanent injunction to eliminate the very competition that Bb told the Department of Justice justified the merger.

Worse yet, from before the time of its first submission to the Department of Justice, Bb knew that the PTO had allowed the patent. Bb, nevertheless, continued to ask the Department of Justice to approve the merger because competition was “robust and increasing,” “vigorous and growing,” and because of the “vigorous competition that Bb faces and will continue to face.” Bb never told the Department of Justice that Bb had been issued a patent that it planned to use to hobble or eliminate competition in the CMS market. Bb went so far as to argue to the Department of Justice that “Bb will not be able to raise prices or otherwise impact competition unilaterally because of the increasingly strong competition from these numerous and diverse sources.”

Let's recap: Blackbeard tells the DoJ that the WebCT merger should be allowed because it has ample competition in the market while specifically mentioning D2L, they don't tell the DoJ about the patent that would severely limit competition which they already knew was being granted by the USPTO, and then they immediately sue D2L once the patent is issued in order to reduce competition.

And who are the upstanding Americans that are getting away with gaming the system? Below you'll see them on stage at Educause courtesy of a CC-licensed photo by Al Essa. I added my own editing touches and then published it under the same CC-Attribution, Share-Alike license that Al used.

If the one on the right is Blackbeard, then the one on the left must be Benjamin Hornigold - the pirate known as Blackbeard's tutor. Of course I could be wrong.

Updated mid-afternoon: Blackboard announces today that they are entering the video surveillance business for colleges. HUGE QUESTION: WHO THE HELL IS WATCHING BLACKBOARD??? WHERE IS OUR SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM FOR THEM???

Another update: Monday evening - apparently the Texas judge grants permanent injunction to Blackboard barring all sales by Desire2Learn in the U.S. Looking for more info. WRONG!!! WRONG!!! WRONG!!! - see new post for complete mea culpa

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