No, not that one.
As we reported here about a year ago, Blackboard has been sued for patent infringement. A company called TechRadium asserts that Blackboard’s Connect product, which they acquired with the purchase of NTI, violate’s TechRadium’s patent regarding mass emergency notification systems. (I don’t know the details of the patents because to look at them would place my employer at legal risk.) Since then, we haven’t heard any news.
Until today, that is. I just got a press release from TechRadium’s lawyers (O’Quinn Law Firm) which reads, in part,
Shortly after the acquisition of NTI by Blackboard, TechRadium sued Blackboard for infringing several of its mass notification patents. In response to that lawsuit, Blackboard, apparently believing a good offense is the best defense, spent $17 million to purchase a patent of its own and, based upon its interpretation of the patent language, filed an infringement lawsuit against TechRadium. As part of that lawsuit Blackboard requested a preliminary injunction.
TechRadium’s CIO, Darren Ross, contended the Blackboard patent describes “obsolete technology that no competent IT administrator would implement,” and that its IRIS product did not infringe. The Court, not only denied Blackboard’s request for preliminary injunction, it largely agreed with TechRadium’s interpretation of the patent language, and stated, “Based upon my likely claim construction, I do not find that Blackboard has demonstrated in this hearing a likelihood of success on the merits.”
TechRadium’s attorney, Shawn Staples of the O’Quinn Law Firm, added, “based upon the Judge’s initial interpretation of the patent language, TechRadium is well outside the bounds of infringing on Blackboard’s patent, and we now look forward to addressing Blackboard’s infringement of TechRadium’s patents.”
So, according to TechRadium’s version of the story, Blackboard spent $17 million to purchase a patent that may, in the end, do them no good in defending against TechRadium’s patent infringement suit. To be sure, this is just a ruling on a priliminary injunction. It sounds like the claim construction phase is still ahead, and the judge could still rule their way at that point. But still, when you put this together with the D2L suit, Blackboard must have spent something in the neighborhood of $25 million purchasing and litigating patents over the past few years. You have to wonder how they imagine this is going to pay for itself.