Remember those Alex eBook reader photos and info that seeped onto the web a few weeks back just before Barnes and Noble announced their Nook eBook Reader? It turns out Spring Design, the company that created Alex is suing Barnes and Noble for violating intellectual property. The Alex features a dual screen design with a main eInk ebook reader screen and a smaller color touch screen below. It also has 3G and runs Google's Android OS. Sounds an awful lot like the Barnes and Noble eBook reader that was recently announced and will be on sale for the holiday shopping season. Silly us, we assumed that Spring Design and Barnes and Noble were working together on the Nook.
The Alex eBook reader
The Barnes and Noble Nook eBook reader
Here's Spring Design's press release covering the lawsuit: CUPERTINO, CA - November 2, 2009 - Spring Design today filed a lawsuit to protect its Alex? e-book intellectual property. The lawsuit asserts Barnes & Noble misappropriated trade secrets and violated the parties' non-disclosure agreement when it copied Alex' features into its recently announced Nook e-book.
"Spring Design unfortunately had to take the appropriate action to protect its intellectual property rights," said Spring Design Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Eric Kmiec. "We showed the Alex e-book design to Barnes & Noble in good faith with the intention of working together to provide a superior dual screen e-book to the market."
Spring Design first developed and began filing patents on its Alex e-book, an innovative dual screen, Android-based e-book back in 2006. Since the beginning of 2009 Spring and Barnes & Noble worked within a non-disclosure agreement, including many meetings, emails and conference calls with executives ranging up to the president of Barnes and Noble.com, discussing confidential information regarding the features, functionality and capabilities of Alex. Throughout, Barnes & Noble's marketing and technical executives extolled Alex's "innovative" features, never mentioning their use of those features until the public disclosure of the Nook.
Alex, with its unique Duet Navigator?, provides the capability for interaction and navigation techniques of the two screens and furthermore utilizes the capabilities of Android to enhance the reader's experience by supporting interactive access to the Internet for references and links. As the first in the market to offer an e-book with full Internet browsing while reading and with easy navigational control via its touch screen, Alex is well-positioned to offer the most dynamic and powerful reading device in the market.
Spring Design is focused at working strategically with book store partners to jointly develop the market and revolutionize e-book with interactive multi-media open Internet access. "It is our desire to resolve this matter so that we can move forward together to expand and grow this e-book market with enriched user experience, bringing readers to a new level of reading enjoyment," said Eric Kmiec.
-------------------- Lisa Gade Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview