All your LMS are belong to Us

On the 26th July, 2006, Blackboard Inc announced it had successfully acquired a patent over many of the core functionalities of learning management systems worldwide, from a patent application filed in 2000, as well as holding 30 patents granted and pending worldwide. On the same day, it lodged civil proceedings against Desire2Learn, a competing LMS vendor.

As LMS philosophies and technologies were developed independently by a number of entities over the preceding decade, Blackboard's claim seems ridiculous. However, their prompt action against Desire2Learn demonstrates the willingness of Blackboard Inc to wilfully ignore their own code of ethics in their competitive practices.

Ensuing research by the e-learning community revealed that SAP also have a number of patents pending on various e-learning methods. While these are less broad than Blackboard's patents, and have not yet been used by SAP in an anti-competitive or unethical way, the educational community has still expressed concern at the ethical, innovation, validity and equity implications of patenting educational technologies.

This wiki is being set up as a source of information and resources on the issue of Blackboard's patent and the intellectual property issues of e-learning technologies in general. Interested educators are invited to join and contribute to this resource, and to post to the associated edublog,

For information on what you can do to help, see our "How to Help" page. Or, if you would like to participate in a collaborative effort to preserve the freedom of e-learning, why not join WITE?