A federal appeals court ruling this week voided part of a Blackboard Inc. patent that competitor Desire2Learn was accused of violating, and technology experts say the end of the protracted legal battle could introduce an era of renewed competition in the eLearning sector.

The case that started in early 2008 when Blackboard accused Desire2Learn of violating a patent on using a single login to access multiple online classes ended July 27 when a federal appeals court agreed with Desire2Learn in its charge that Blackboard's patent was too broad.

Both companies make learning management systems (LMS) software that helps educators log student grades,...

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