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5/22/2006
05:46 PM
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Patent Office Reviews Patent For Online Test Taking

The patent owners were requiring universities to pay up to administer tests for distance-learning programs.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is reexamining a broad patent owned by an online test-taking company that has billed universities for tests given through distance learning programs.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation challenged Test.com, which has used patent no. 6,513,042 to cover most online testing methods and demand payments from universities. EFF and Theodore C. McCullough, of the Lemaire Patent Law Firm, are arguing that IntraLearn Software Corporation marketed an online testing system in 1998, before Test.com filed its patent application in 1999. The patent was issued in January 2003.

"Patents like these are hurting innovation and education in America," EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz, said in a prepared statement. "This is a perfect example of how the patent system is broken and what needs to be fixed."

The decision to reexamine the patent marks the second victory for EFF's Patent Busting Project since April. The first reexamination request targeted Clear Channel patent no. 6,614,729 for a system and method of creating recordings of live performances, which claims to cover artists recording their own performances. Apple Computer Inc. and Creative Labs are also battling it out over music patents.

The Patent and Trademark Office has narrowed or revoked 70 percent of the patents it has reexamined.

Calls to Test.com were answered by an automatic recording Monday and were not immediately returned.

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