Just in case you’re considering posting an online test, plan on putting aside some money to cover the royalties you’ll owe. It seems that one company claims to hold a patent on “almost all methods of online testing”.
Based on this overly broad patent that our government actually granted, Test.com is demanding payments from many universities that offer online programs.
Fortunately, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is leading a challenge of this incredibly stupid patent.
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 Test.com filed its patent request. But Test.com 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.
Isn’t it time our intellectual property laws acknowledged that there are some concepts just too obvious to patent? Once someone came up with the idea of teaching online way back when, giving tests must have been thought number two.