Monday, October 27, 2008

Blackboard Sends in the Spies


This story is almost too much to believe. I guess that is why the blog post at the D2L patent site has a title of: "Grab yourself a cup of coffee and get comfortable - we have a story for you!"

Many of us who attended D2L's 2008 User Conference (FUSION) in Memphis were distracted by the court proceedings that were occurring simultaneously in Texas. This was the proceeding where the court found that D2L version 8.3 does NOT infringe on Blackboard's bogus patent. From the blog entry:

"Blackboard convinced the Court that it should be permitted to have a representative at FUSION, Dr. Mark Jones (who served as Blackboard's expert witness) and the Court agreed. Counsel for Blackboard further requested:

  • We would ask the court and ask D2L not to disclose that Dr. Jones is an expert for Blackboard or is connected with Blackboard at the conference. The court, I'm sure from its past statements, has read some of the blogs and some of the Internet traffic on this. And we don't think Dr. Jones should be subjected to some of the users who might think -- have certain opinions about in this case, and they may take it out on Dr. Jones.
  • So, we would ask that Desire2Learn not only protect the connection that Dr. Jones has with Blackboard but also not disclose to the users that there is a Blackboard consultant at the conference.
Blackboard asked the Court to order that we tell no Desire2Learn client that Dr. Jones would be at FUSION. The Court granted Blackboard's request, and we made sure that we complied with the Court's Order."

The story goes on to tell how Jones was allowed to roam around FUSION under a cloak of darkness. I think it is very funny that Blackboard would make such a request in the first place, and I also think that it is amazingly sad the court would grant such a request and even determine the terms of the visit. Sounds more like something that Judge Judy would do, not a real judge in a real court. But alas, that is exactly what happened.

As a result of this, Blackbeard returned to the court and said that they had uncovered new evidence at FUSION that was pertinent to the trial. The court agreed and decided that "Blackboard may depose one representative from Ohio State University and one representative from Marquette University about the performance of step (a) of claim 36. The court denies all other discovery requests." (BTW, people from TOSU get very upset when you don't refer to them as THE Ohio State University. Come on judge, don't you watch college football?).

These depositions will be used to determine whether these self-hosted D2L customers create a liability for D2l. "Both customers Blackboard identified host servers on-site, within the United States, that run Desire2Learn’s software. Deposing representatives from Ohio State and Marquette will allow Blackboard sufficient opportunity to demonstrate whether Desire2Learn is installed in the United States and step (a) of claim 36 is satisfied."

Just for the record, I don't really believe that Judge Clark is the equivalent of Judge Judy. I also don't find it funny that Blackboard would make such a request, because that is exactly the type of corporate mentality that we are dealing with here. As for the bloggers who might have taken "it out on Dr. Jones," - gee, who were you referring to? Apparently there is a faction of us higher ed bloggers who have violent tendencies. All I can say to that is:




CC Flickr Photo by .:Mat:.

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