Patent Office so out of Touch

When you see items like this, you can only shake your head and wonder where they live.  In 2000, CTLT had an application called The Bridge that contained an online quiz. WebCT had similar tools in a similar time frame.

Based on concerns raised by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
about “prior art,” the United States Patent and Trademark Office
(USPTO) has announced it will conduct a reevaluation of a patent
granted in 2003 for online testing. The notion of prior art covers
whether the subject of a patent is indeed original–and patentable–or
whether another party had previously developed the item or technology
in question. The patent at issue was granted to for
technologies broadly related to offering tests online. If valid, the
patent would allow the company to claim patent authority over a wide
range of online testing tools deployed at colleges and universities,
and the company has already approached some institutions about
licensing the patent. According to the EFF, however, another company
offered such tools for sale at least one year before the
patent was issued. The review process is expected to take at least two
months. James J. Posch, chief executive of, noted that their
patent claim has passed muster once already. “I’ll be surprised if it
doesn’t survive a second time,” he said. Jason Schultz, staff lawyer
at the EFF, had a different outlook, saying that he is confident the
patent will be invalidated unless discloses some secret
Chronicle of Higher Education, 19 May 2006 (sub. req’d)

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