Originally written 9 August 2007, amended 10 August 2007, and updated 23 August 2007
On 23 August iParadigms LLC and Blackboard Inc. announced that the have settled their disagreement regarding iParadigms' plagiarism detection patent. Under the settlement, iParadigms has reaffirmed its promise not to assert the patent against Blackboard or the use of Blackboard's SafeAssign anti-plagiarism application. If the settlement involved financial terms of any kind, these have, understandably, not been made public.
For (e-learning) patent buffs, the 3/8/2007 8 page Complaint by Blackboard Inc. against iParadigms [300 kB PDF], owners of the TurnItIn system used by the UK's JISC Plagiarism Advisory Service, and helpfully placed on the Internet by im+m, is worth reading in full, if only for the insights it gives into "patent business practice" in the US. Here also for reference is iParadigms' US Patent 7,210,301.
iParadigms, the Claim asserts, has approached Blackboard telling it that Blackboard is infringing patent 7,210,301. Blackboard's complaint seems to be a defensive response to this, and it uses the interesting line of argument in paragraphs 20 - 24 of the Complaint, that by previously joining the Blackboard Developer Network
and signing up to its terms under some bespoke terms (which I've been given to understand included a specific promise not to sue Blackboard with any intellectual property related to the iParadigms TurnItIn product*), iParadigms has contractualised an entitlement for Blackboard to use Patent 7,210,301.
The "Prayer for Relief" on pages 9 and 10 of the Claim lists a number of apparently contradictory requests for declarations by the court - which you would imagine would be very time-consuming and costly for iParadigms to oppose, and, in the first case, risky for it if upheld, for example that:
- Patent 7,210,301 is invalid;
- Blackboard does not infringe any valid or enforceable claim of Patent 7,210,301;
- Blackboard has been expressly licences (sic) to practice Patent 7,210,301.
* Change made 10/8/2007