Blackboard Inc. opened a new front in its battle against rival Desire2Learn this week, filing a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission seeking to block the import of the Canadian company’s products because of alleged patent infringement.
In Blackboard’s filing with the commission, which it submitted on Monday, the company called for an investigation and asked that the body ultimately “halt the importation, marketing, advertising, demonstration, servicing, sale, and use” of Desire2Learn’s course-management system in the United States. Blackboard claims in the filing that Desire2Learn is violating the company’s patent and selling the infringing product in America, in violation of the Tariff Act of 1930.
Within 30 days after such a request is filed, the commission will decide whether to proceed with an investigation, which would be done by one of the body’s six judges, said Peg O’Laughlin, a spokesperson for the commission.
Blackboard’s general counsel, Matthew Small, said that the company also plans to file a patent-infringement lawsuit against Desire2Learn in a Canadian court today or tomorrow.
Blackboard already has two other lawsuits going against Desire2Learn alleging patent infringement. It won one of those cases in a U.S. federal court last year, and the case is under consideration by a federal appeals court. The company filed another complaint last month, alleging infringement of a newer patent.
Diane M. Lank, Desire2Learn’s general counsel, called the moves “frivolous.” “As Blackboard continues these tactics, we’re more and more prepared to deal with them,” she said.
Mr. Small said that Blackboard took its latest actions because Desire2Learn continues to sell versions of its software that Blackboard feels violate its patent.
Last week the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is reviewing the validity of one of Blackboard’s patents, issued a preliminary ruling that the patent was issued improperly because the invention existed elsewhere before the company filed its claim. The patent remains valid, however, at least until the review is completed and all legal appeals of the decision are heard. —Jeffrey R. Young