With a lot of intricate back-and-forth on the legal front lately, online-learning enthusiasts might be forgiven for wondering whether a high-stakes patent dispute between Blackboard Inc. and Desire2Learn Inc. (D2L)--two companies that make enterprise software for web-based course management--will be resolved anytime soon.

In a recent development, a magistrate judge in a federal district court in Texas challenged terminology involved in Blackboard's claims in a patent-infringement lawsuit against D2L--invalidating some of the claims, at least for the time being. Some observers saw the magistrate's opinion, which was issued in early August after a hearing and arguments by both sides, as a


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