Irony Alert: Desire2Learn, Critic of Litigation, Sues Over Utah Contract

Desire2Learn has made a big fuss criticizing the litigiousness of its major rival, Blackboard. Now the learning-management software company is picking a legal fight of its own.

D2L Ltd., a U.S. subsidiary of the Canadian company, filed a lawsuit over a course-management-system contract that the firm failed to win in Utah, according to a report in The Salt Lake Tribune. D2L has protested that the victorious bidder, a Utah start-up called Instructure, “is too small and untested to deserve the contract,” the newspaper writes. That contract is valued at more than $500,000 a year and affects 160,000 students and 8,000 instructors at eight public colleges and universities in Utah.

According to the Tribune, D2L also claims Instructure was ineligible to win the contract because one of its employees may have helped design the contract’s specifications in an earlier job. The lawsuit petitions the court to void the Instructure contract, and to either award it to D2L or rebid it. It also seeks to recover D2L’s costs in assembling the bid.

In 2009, Desire2Learn issued an unusual challenge in response to a patent-infringement lawsuit filed by Blackboard: It said it would give $1-million to an education-related charity if Blackboard agreed to drop the litigation. John Baker, president of Desire2Learn, made the challenge in a letter to Blackboard’s president, Michael Chasen, which the Canadian company posted it on its Web site.

“Instead of spending money on law firms, we thought we should spend money on what is really needed right now, and that is education,” Mr. Baker said at the time.

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