Saturday, February 03, 2007

Is it PR, irony or doublespeak?

I wrote a while back two articles related to the patent application by blackboard (From blackboard to whiteboard and Life after blackboard). This week, Blackboard is in the press again for two reasons. 1) the patent office is re-examining its patents and 2) Blackboard announces Patent Pledge in support of Open Source Software and Home-grown Content Management Systems.
It ironical that they had to issue this pledge when they have a case pending in court and when their patent is to be re-examined - although they claim they have a high chance of success.
Isn't it doublespeak their claim that the
Pledge commits Blackboard not to assert U.S. Patent No. 6,988,138 and many other pending patent applications against the development, use or distribution of open source software or home-grown course management systems anywhere in the world, to the extent that such systems are not bundled with proprietary software..
without naming the 'many other pending applications'? What of the contradictory statements:
the Pledge, Blackboard promises never to pursue patent actions against anyone using such systems including professors contributing to open source projects, open source initiatives, commercially developed open source add-on applications to proprietary products and vendors hosting and supporting open source applications.
Q. How can you have "commercially developed open source add-on applications to proprietary products" that is "not bundled with proprietary software"?

All in all, I agree with them that this is "unprecedented for a product company such as Blackboard" to conceal and misrepresent facts to appear to be friendly or in support of the general public good.


Anonymous said...

Hi James,

Bb *does* list some of the patent applications here ...

It's a little hard to find them on the website (so far I can't) - mostly because they are applications for patents - not patents granted. I'm pretty sure that these are published somewhere, but I haven't found them yet.

James Kariuki said...

Thanks, I have seen them, but the listing does not make sense to me. It would be more helpful if they stated what all those applications entail.

Ashtyn said...

You write very well.