The latest news is that Blackboard has stated that the language of the intellectual property waiver in their contract with iParadigms was specific to that contract, motivated by specific concerns about the particular company and business relationship involved. Blackboard further states the language is not present in their standard Building Blocks contract or other partner contacts. This is an important clarification and one that I am happy to pass on.
But from the editorial perspective of this blog, the contract issue is and always has been a side issue anyway. The reason that the Blackboard v iParadigms story hit these pages in the first place was because it was about one educational software company asserting a patent against another. Now, because Blackboard was the one to file suit, it was logical to speculate that Blackboard was the one asserting the patent. Logical but incorrect, as it turns out. And the fact that the actors are in different roles than we might have thought should not change our views on the actions themselves. I have argued in these pages that asserting patents within the educational software sector, on balance, does more to stifle innovation than to foster it, meaning that its net effect is exactly the opposite of the intended effect of patent law. If one believes that to be true, then one must oppose the actions of any company seeking to pro-actively assert a patent for educational software and support the right of any company to mount a vigorous defense. There are many situational facts in this particular case that are unclear, but one central, salient fact is clear: iParadigms was seeking to assert a patent for educational software. From the perspective of the edupatent crisis, all other details are ancillary.
While it can be tempting to equate poetic justice with actual justice, the two are not the same at all. Two wrongs don’t make a right.