A fictitious conversation between Blackboard's CEO and Blackboard's Spinmeister.
CEO: We seem to have gotten ourselves into a bit of a pickle. How do we spin this?
Spinmeister: First, avoid any substantive comment in public about what the patent covers and what it doesn't cover. You can say something like: "Because this is in the courts, I can't comment."
CEO: I don't understand. Just because we have filed a lawsuit it doesn't mean I can't talk about what the patent covers.
Spinmeister. Yes. You and I know that. But you can use the fact of ligitation to evade answering any tough questions. Our goal is to intimidate Desire2Learn and raise the spectre of litigation. Talking specifics about the patent doesn't advance either goal.
CEO: So, what DO I say?
Spinmeister. Say, our patent doesn't cover ALL e-learning. Strictly speaking that's true. No patent covers everything. Keep repeating: "Our patent is limited and doesn't cover all e-learning." You don't have to say what it does cover. Remember also to keep repeating. "It's in the courts and I can't comment." And don't ever say that we have also applied for OTHER patents.
CEO: What if I am asked WHY we took out a patent and have others pending?
Spinmeister. Repeat after me. Say it at least ten times before every meal. "intellectual property... intellectual property...intellectual property".."copying...copying...copying...". Most people don't understand the difference between copyright and patent and frankly don't care. If you say "intellectual property" and "copying" enough times it will naturally evoke an association with things like illegal downloading of music and theft. Use my soundbites and we will create the following association. Trust Me.
Blackboard :: Adults :: Respect for Property :: Believers in Competition, Markets & Innovation
CEO. How do I handle open source?
Spinmeister. Calm down, dude. I know you want to strangle open source.You don't have to take them head on. Say: "Our litigation focus is on commercial providers." Lack of Indemnification is open source's achilles heel. All we have to do is raise the spectre of litigation. Let the lawyers at the colleges and universities apply the pressure internally against open source. They will kill it. We will just sit back and enjoy the show.
CEO. What about these stupid bloggers?
Spinmeister. Nothing to worry about. It's just a handful of individual bloggers raising a ruckus. Remember that no institutions or organizations with any clout have taken a stand. If you use my sound bites things will blow over in a few weeks. It will be just like a passing rainstorm in Texas.
CEO. What about innovation?
Spinmeister. Give me a break. It's just a word. Everyone is for it and no one knows what it is. Just keep repeating the word as everyone else does. Remember our company motto. Educate. Innovate. Everywhere. The first two are just words. The last word is what we are after: EVERYWHERE.