Here’s an interesting article (ironically titled “Suit Threatens Blackboard Inc.”) from the campus newspaper at Cornell University, the birthplace of Blackboard:
Only time will tell how Blackboard Inc., Cornell’s course management software provider, will fare on campus and throughout the country.
Amid a national legal debate over the scope of Blackboard’s “Internet-based education support system and methods” patent, Cornell technology staff members are moving forward with a preliminary assessment of whether Blackboard is the most appropriate software for Cornell professors and students.
Stressing that the “legal issues aren’t having an impact on our commitment to Blackboard in the short run,” Jim Lombardi of CIT admitted that the controversy, “probably accelerated our plans to take a look at what the options are to Blackboard.”
“When Blackboard announced their patent it did cause us to begin an assessment of whether we wanted to move away from Blackboard … It did cause us to rethink whether we wanted to use their product,” said Polley McClure, Cornell’s vice president of Information Technologies.
Lombardi and others described the assessment process as “due diligence” or “insurance.”
“Whenever a company starts getting that many people annoyed at it, you sense some risk — that’s what it comes down to,” said Lombardi.
Cornell officials were careful to emphasize that Blackboard is the right fit for Cornell at this time. They said that the assessment would have occurred this year even without the upset and anxiety elicited by Blackboard’s legal actions.
I’ve heard similar comments from a handful of current Blackboard customers.