Stephen Downes offers a great synopsis of the response to the Blackboard patent announcement.
Sadly a volley has been shot across the bow of Desire2learn, that great little Canadian company with an excellent LMS. Blackboard (I almost typed Blackbeard) has served notice to Desire2Learn. And what of Open source tools like Sakai or Moodle? Blackboard seems to be fighting a two pronged battle - direct - fight other LMS providers and - indirect - "instill fear" of litigation among administrators, who will then think twice about promoting open source course management initiatives.
Alfred Essa suggests that " Blackboard's real threat is open source. By filing a patent infringement lawsuit against Desire2Learn Blackboard has at the same time fired a shot across the bow of open source projects such as Moodle, Sakai, and .LRN, which are slowly emerging as disruptive innovations in the elearning space. In the long run Blackboard knows it can't win on product quality or innovation. Therefore, it will exploit patents as its WMD. ... to "win" against open source Blackboard doesn't need to sue existing users or go after open source projects. It just needs to create the Fear of Patent Ligitation among potential adopters. By suing Desire2Learn it has achieved that objective. If your competition can't get any new business, you have effectively eliminated them."
Others have suggested this might prove to be a positive move - that this might be the point of technology disruption that is needed to drive us away from our course based perspective. This is something I believe could be true. Alex Reid suggest that "Blackboard's patent is the evil impetus to move us away from a "course-based system" of 'online courses:' the bad idea that they want to claim as their fundamental intellectual property."
Anyway, Blackboard has stirred up a nest of litigation and will provoke the ed tech community to question their options. Blackboard may well have driven us to that tipping point when we begin to release our learning and learning design from the walled confines of the LMS. Perhaps Blackboard may go down in history as the soothsayer rather than the doomsayer.