Not impressed by patents on educational technologies? Here's some things you can do:

Boycott Blackboard

How this helps: Blackboard is a commercial company. The strongest message you can send to them is in the form of not endorsing their products and services. If you're considering implementing an LMS, choose something else on moral and public interest grounds. If you already have a Blackboard or WebCT implementation, start looking at alternatives - there are some excellent products out there.

Join this Wiki, and/or Join WITE

How this helps: this wiki is a collaborative project to inform the education community of the issues raised by Blackboard Inc.'s recent actions. In the 21st Century, information is empowerment - or, as Blackboard themselves have proven, power. We need a community to regularly update this wiki and its associated blog. Joining this wiki, and joining WITE, is the start of an organised movement to challenge the validity of Blackboard and SAP's patents, and preserve the freedom and innovation of global e-learning.

Sign the Anti-Blackboard Petition

How this helps: the petition will help to document the widespread outrage of the educational community over Blackboard's actions in falsely claiming, and subsequently wielding, their patents on online learning methods. It will send a clear message to Blackboard that their actions are seen as an attack on education.
Where to go: http://www.boycottblackboard.org/

Contribute to the History of VLEs in Wikipedia

How this helps: patents can be challenged by evidence of "prior art" - documented instances of the invention being claimed being previously invented or in use.
Say what: Describe the system that included prior art and provide one or more references. If you can, join our WITE project to granularly document the features of each learning solution against each itemised claim being patented.
Where to go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_virtual_learning_environments

Advise Intellectual Property agencies

How this helps: if IP organisations are aware of prior art on a patent application, they will not grant the patent. A granted patent generally has a contest period immediately following its issue during which time formal challenges can be lodged. Contact and patent details will vary from country to country. Check below to see the details of Blackboard's patents lodged in various countries worldwide, and IP agency contact details.
Say what: Reference the Patent Application number against which you are filing your notifications of prior art. Advise that the claims being made were in the public domain prior to the filing of the patent, and are challenged by prior art. Counter each of the claims made in the patent application document with a documented example of prior art. As this is quite an involved process, lists of patent claims and prior art against each claim will be posted on this wiki as they are researched and completed.

Australia

Contact: IP Australia, PO Box 200, Woden, ACT 2606 AUSTRALIA

Pat/Appn #
Title
Filed






2003237918
Internet-based education support system and method with multi-language capability
22 MAY 2003
WO03100745





2003263854
Internet-based education support system, method and medium providing security attributes in modular, extensible components
19 AUGUST 2003






2003263855
Internet-based education support system, method and medium with modular text-editing component for use in a web-based application
19 AUGUST 2003






2004265995
Content system and associated methods
13 AUGUST 2004
WO2005017697





2005203324
Internet-based education support system and methods
28 JULY 2005


Tell Blackboard What You Think

How this helps: if enough decision makers in the education sector let Blackboard know that they condemn their company ethics and will choose other products over Blackboard products, Blackboard may rescind their actions and seek the forgiveness of the education community.
Say what: Blackboard do not have a legal right to claim patents over innovations pioneered by other members of the e-learning community. Their patents, both granted and pending, can and will be legally voided by documented instances of prior art, and their anti-competitive use of patents granted is morally reprehensible and conflicts with their company's own Code of Ethics. Their unethical use of litigation has lost them the support of the education technology community.
Contacts:

General Contact Form: http://www.blackboard.com/company/choose.aspx

Tell SAP What You Think

How this helps: if enough decision makers in the education sector let SAP know that patenting educational "methods" is a practice condemned by the education community as unethical, and will lose them the support of their customer base, SAP may be less inclined to wield their patent rights the way Blackboard has.
Say what: Following Blackboard's litigation on the basis of patents granted on educational technology, the e-learning community has become aware that SAP holds similar patents in the field of educational technology. While SAP has not yet used a patent in an anti-competitive or anti-innovative way, it should be aware that the educational technologists condemn the practice of patenting educational technology "methods", as potentially inhibiting the application of best practice across the educational sector and preventing product innovation that enhances teaching and learning, and should desist from such practices.
Contacts:

SAP Executive Board Members:

  • Henning Kagermann: henning.kagermann@sap.com, CEO, Special responsibilities: Overall responsibility for SAP's strategy and business development; global communications; global intellectual property; internal audit; top talent management
  • Shai Agassi: shai.agassi@sap.com, Special responsibilities: Product development and technology; industry solutions; product and industry marketing
  • Leo Apotheka: leo.apotheka@sap.com, Special responsibilities: Sales; consulting; education; marketing
  • Werner Brandt: werner.brandt@sap.com, Special responsibilities: Finance and administration; shared services; SAP Ventures
  • Claus E. Heinrich: claus.heinrich@sap.com, Special responsibilities: Global human resources; quality management; internal information technology (IT); SAP Labs
  • Gerhard Oswald: gerhard.oswald@sap.com, Special responsibilities: Global service and support; custom development
  • Peter Zencke: peter.zencke@sap.com, Special responsibilities: Research; application platform

General contact form: http://www.sap.com/contactsap/index.epx

Donate to the Defence Fund

Challenging the Australian patent alone will cost $1300 for the re-examination, and more if we wish to have the challenge inspected by an Australian patent lawyer prior to filing for re-examination. We will almost certainly be setting up a legal fund. More information coming soon.

Show your Support

Someone's posted up some "Evil Blackboard" art in Flickr. :)