Blackboard Announces Patent Pledge in Support of Open Source Software and Home-Grown Course Management Systems
WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Blackboard Inc.
(Nasdaq: BBBB), a leading provider of enterprise technology to the education
community, announced today a "Patent Pledge" in support of learning
institutions worldwide that use or develop open source and home-grown course
management software as well as the commercial entities supporting them.
In summary, the Blackboard Patent Pledge is a promise by the company to
never assert its issued or pending course management system software patents
against open source software or home-grown course management systems. The
Blackboard Pledge is legally binding, irrevocable and worldwide in scope.
"As a member of the e-Learning community, we are committed to the open
exchange of ideas, collaboration and innovation," said Michael Chasen,
president and chief executive officer of Blackboard. "This pledge is part of
that commitment and our continued efforts to work collaboratively with the e-
Learning community to foster greater openness and interoperability."
Specifically, 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.
As part of 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. Blackboard is also extending its pledge to many
specifically identified open source initiatives within the course management
system space whether or not they may include proprietary elements within their
applications, such as Sakai, Moodle, ATutor, Elgg and Bodington.
Commitments to limit potential patent protection are uncommon,
particularly for enterprise software companies. The Patent Pledge -- in terms
of its sweeping scope, strong commitment and public nature -- is unprecedented
for a product company such as Blackboard.
In developing its Patent Pledge, Blackboard solicited the input from its
clients, the open source community and EDUCAUSE, a leading association whose
mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of
information technology. According to a joint statement from the EDUCAUSE and
Sakai Boards of Directors:
"We particularly welcome the inclusion of pending patents, the
clarification on the commercial support, customization, hosting or
maintenance of open source systems and the worldwide nature of
Blackboard's pledge. We also appreciate the willingness of Blackboard to
continue with frank and direct dialogue with our two organizations and
with other higher education representatives and groups to work toward
addressing these problems of community concern."
Blackboard has also received a large amount of support from the e-Learning
community around the world:
"In our experience with Blackboard, they've always been extremely
collaborative," said David Ernst, CIO and Assistant Vice Chancellor for
California State University. "I believe that Blackboard's pledge of
support to the open source community demonstrates their intention to
continue fostering collaboration while defending their intellectual
property. It's encouraging and a move I hope the education community will
"I am particularly pleased that this pledge was created in collaboration
with leadership from EDUCAUSE and Sakai. Collaborations like this will be
an important component of building future partnerships, in addition to
responding to the technology and policy needs of teachers and learners,"
stated Sharon Pitt, executive director of the Division of Instructional
Technology at George Mason University.
"This pledge clearly allows a sensible and clear way forward for the
educational community," remarked Professor Alan Farley, Director,
Institute of Teaching and Learning, Deakin University, Victoria,
"We wish to acknowledge the company's actions and express our appreciation
to Blackboard in committing to continue to foster creativity and
collaboration within the e-Learning community. Such a response can only
benefit the teachers and practitioners, the learners, Blackboard, and
indeed the wider e-Learning community," said Gordon Suddaby of the
Australasian Council on Open, Distance and e-Learning (ACODE).
"This is a bold move and one which I can only applaud," said John
Hemingway, chief information officer of Sheffield Hallam University.
The Blackboard Patent Pledge along with many Frequently Asked Questions
can be found at http://www.blackboard.com/patent.
About Blackboard Inc.
Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB) is a leading provider of enterprise
software applications and related services to the education industry. Founded
in 1997, Blackboard enables educational innovations everywhere by connecting
people and technology. Millions of people use Blackboard everyday at academic
institutions around the globe, including colleges, universities, K-12 schools
and other education providers, as well as textbook publishers and student-
focused merchants that serve education providers and their students.
Blackboard is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in North
America, Europe, Australia and Asia.
Educate. Innovate. Everywhere.(TM)
Any statements in this press release about future expectations, plans and
prospects for Blackboard and other statements containing the words "believes,"
"anticipates," "plans," "expects," "will," and similar expressions, constitute
forward-looking statements within the meaning of The Private Securities
Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those
indicated by such forward-looking statements as a result of various important
factors, including the factors discussed in the "Risk Factors" section of our
Form 10-Q filed on November 9, 2006 with the SEC. In addition, the forward-
looking statements included in this press release represent the Company's
views as of February 1, 2007. The Company anticipates that subsequent events
and developments will cause the Company's views to change. However, while the
Company may elect to update these forward-looking statements at some point in
the future, the Company specifically disclaims any obligation to do so. These
forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing the
Company's views as of any date subsequent to February 1, 2007. Nothing
contained in this press release should be construed to expand the rights
included in the actual Blackboard Patent Pledge available at
SOURCE Blackboard Inc.
CONTACT: Melissa Chotiner, Senior Manager Public Relations of Blackboard
Inc., +1-202-463-4860 ext. 2404,
firstname.lastname@example.org; or Amy Storey of
Fleishman-Hillard Inc., +1-202-828-8819, email@example.com, for Blackboard