This one is even more exciting than the SecondLife statement.
After the announcement that the USPTO was reexamining its patents in a case against open source course management software, Blackboard incorporated is announcing that it is specifically not going to use its patents to sue open source and other non-commercial providers of course management software.
From a message sent to users of Blackboard’s products and relayed by the Moodle community.
I am writing to share some exciting news about a patent pledge Blackboard is making today to the open source and home-grown course management community. We are announcing a legally-binding, irrevocable, world-wide pledge not to assert any of our issued or pending patents related to course management systems or transaction systems against the use, development or support of any open source or home-grown course management systems.
This is a major victory. Not only for developers of Moodle, Sakai, ATutor, Elgg, and Bodington course- and content-management solutions, but for anyone involved in the open and free-as-in-speech approach to education, research, technology, and law.
Even more so than in Microsoft’s case, Blackboard is making the most logical decision it could make. Makes perfect business sense: they’re generating goodwill, encouraging the world’s leading eLearning communities, and putting themselves in a Google-like “do no evil” position in the general public’s opinion. Also makes perfect legal sense as they’re acknowledging that the law is really there to protect them against misappropriation of their ideas by commercial competitors and not to crush innovation.
A small step for a corporation … a giant step for freedomkind.
Not only does it titillate my humour-friendly fibers but the encouraging letter allegedly sent by SecondLife.com to the creator of the Get a First Life parody displays what is, to me (IANAL), perfect legal sense.
Frivolous lawsuits and cease-and-desist letters are detrimental to the overall legal system involved in content creation (especially in the U.S. but also in other regions where the lobby groups such as WIPO are prominent). By showing that they apparently don’t intend to threaten a parody site, SecondLife’s lawyers show more than humour and common sense. They show an appreciation for the positive side of legality.
More power to us!
Gotta love it when normal people who were being bullied by large corporations maintain their ground until the big corporation gives up. Regardless of tort reform and any such country-specific issue, the fact that artisan David can win against corporate Goliath is reassuring to those of us who aren’t way up in the corporate ladder. Even those who are, in fact, CEOs of global corporations should take notice as smaller businesses adapt more quickly than the corporate equivalent of dinosaurs do.
Case in point: artisan roaster and Tulsa café DoubleShot Coffee Company in marketing/legal conflict with corporate giant Starbucks (*$, among CoffeeGeeks).
Result: DoubleShot Coffee Company won
Starbucks was using intimidation tactics (threat of a lawsuit) to get DoubleShot Coffee Company to change their name (because Starbucks has a coffee-based canned drink trademarked “Starbucks DoubleShot(tm)”). IMHO, that was a bad move for Starbucks, in terms of good will from the wide world of quality coffee. But now that Starbucks has backed down from the potentially suing DoubleShot, they definitely have some egg on their (corporate) face.
Whether or not anyone agrees with anything Starbucks does, whether or not you think that Starbucks had a leg to stand on, in a court of law, you might agree that local cafés and coffee roasters serve an important purpose on the global stage.