A full-fledged flap has developed in the eLearning community over a U.S. patent awarded last January--but only announced in July--to Blackboard Inc., the market leader in learning management system (LMS) applications.

The patent, and the decision by Blackboard to sue a smaller competitor, has prompted an angry backlash from some in the ed-tech community.

Critics say the patent claims nothing less than Blackboard's ownership of the very idea of eLearning. If allowed to stand, they say, the patent could quash the cooperation between academia and the private sector that...

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