We're used to copyright and industrial espionage claims being more like cases of trademark squatting these days, so to find something ostensibly as straightforward as Barnes and Noble's alleged "copying" of Spring Design's Alex concept is almost refreshing. The startup claims B&N led them to believe that they were interested in producing the Alex dual-display Android ebook reader, before breaking off contact and then, shortly after, announcing the nook. Now Spring Design has shared their NDA agreements and details of the lawsuit with Engadget.
According to Spring Design, having had the NDA signed they then showed the Alex and accompanying marketing materials to Barnes and Noble employees. They even say that B&N.com president William Lynch said he was "looking forward" to the two company's partnership. After that, B&N apparently cut off all contact with Spring Design, and the company heard nothing new until the nook was launched last month.
As Engadget point out, the exact terms of the agreement between the two firms basically say that, while each is allowed to produce competing products, they can't do so having made use of knowledge gleaned under the NDA. It seems the bulk of the court case is going to be Spring Design attempting to prove that the nook's development borrowed from that of the Alex. Barnes and Noble are yet to comment on the allegations.