Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Waiting for ITC decision to investigate Blackboard's complaint vs. D2L

On April 20, 2009, Blackboard filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission (Docket #2661) against Desire2Learn regarding its importing of a patent-infringing product. I've been interested in this particular action because it seems that an outcome here could arise more quickly than with the other lawsuits and the patent review process.

According to Bryan Farney's overview of Section 337 Actions in the ITC, we should be expecting a decision now from the ITC on whether they will launch an investigation into the complaint:
Within 30 days after a prospective complainant files its complaint with the ITC, the Commission determines whether or not it will institute an investigation. If the Commission decides that it will do so, it then refers the investigation to an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") who sets the ground rules and discovery schedule for the investigation, as well as a target date for the final determination. The hearing, during which the parties present evidence, cross-examine witnesses and present arguments, takes place approximately three months before the initial determination due date. The ALJ then issues its initial determination, which the Commission may review at its discretion. Finally the Commission issues its final determination by the date set by the ALJ. The Commission's final determination then stands unless the President disapproves it.

According to the docket above, the current status is "Pending Institution" which I believe means "pending the start of an investigation". Obviously, I'm not a legal expert, so I could use some help translating this phrase.

On a related note, D2L announced that the U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation of Blackboard's acquisition of ANGEL two weeks ago.

Finally, some Bb customers are perceiving what looks like an incongruity between Bb staff and the actions of their highest officers.

Update June 4 2009The Washington Post reports that the ITC will indeed launch an investigation into the Section 337 complaint filed by Blackboard against D2L.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Blackboard acquires ANGEL

Thanks to Stephen Downes for alerting us to this major announcement today.

I like this key statement from Bb's press release: "Assuming the merger closes in May 2009..."

I assume that the Department of Justice will have to approve this merger. We will have to watch to see if/how Bb identifies Desire2Learn as a competitor.

So if anyone is keeping score, the CMS/LMS landscape now includes Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Moodle, and Sakai. There are many other homegrown solutions, small open source options like Bodington, and new products such as TimeCruiser's CourseCruiser. But for now, we are left with the Big 4.