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Blackboard Drops Appeals on Software Patent

Blackboard Inc.’s protracted legal fight to retain the software patent it used to successfully sue course-management rival Desire2Learn is over. It lost.

Patent No. 6,988,138 granted Blackboard the rights to course-management software in which a single user could have multiple roles in multiple courses. A federal jury in Texas ruled in 2008 that Desire2Learn had infringed the patent and ordered it to pay Blackboard $3.1-million.

But the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled later in 2008 that the patent should be invalidated because others had used similar technology to what Blackboard said it had invented. Blackboard officials vowed to have the ruling overturned on appeal.

Last week, a Blackboard representative said in an e-mail that the company had ended its appeals and that the patent had been officially terminated.

“Blackboard chose to abandon the ’138 patent in April and not pursue additional appeals,” said a spokesman, Matthew Maurer. “Upon its official termination by the USPTO earlier this month, we removed it from the Patent Pledge and stopped marking it on our products and Web site as required by law.”

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