Thursday, April 27, 2006

Electronic Frontier Foundation Challenges Patent on Internet Test Taking

Who knew that distance education was teetering on the edge of disaster? Evidently laid a false patent claim to the technology that allows students to take tests over the Internet.... EFF to the rescue!

April 05, 2006
EFF Challenges Dangerous Patent on Internet Test-Taking

Illegitimate Patent Chills Distance Learning and University Education

San Francisco - An extremely broad patent claiming to cover almost all methods of online testing is coming under fire today. has used this illegitimate patent to demand payments from universities with distance education programs that give tests online. However, a patent reexamination application filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today shows that wasn't the first to come up with this testing method.

"Bogus patents like this one highlight the problems with the current patent system. This is a good example of exactly what needs to be fixed to make patents useful to innovators and educators alike," Schultz said.

In conjunction with Theodore C. McCullough of the Lemaire Patent Law Firm, EFF filed a request for reexamination with the United States Patent and Trademark Office showing that IntraLearn Software Corporation had been marketing an online test-taking system long before filed its patent request. But claims that its patent allows it to collect license fees for virtually all online testing methods, preventing educators from developing online coursework and communicating with students over the Internet. As online testing is critical to Internet education, the enforcement of this patent threats academic speech and academic freedom.

"Our nation's education system already faces severe budget constraints and a shortage of resources," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "We shouldn't be diverting resources away from teaching to pay off bogus patent threats."

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