Barnes and Noble don’t seem to need any assistance from Spring Design in holding up their nook ebook reader from hitting the market, but the latter’s hope for an official injunction while their allegations of “misappropriated trade secrets” are worked out through the courts has been denied. While the court documents agree that there is a “genuine dispute” about whether B&N used Spring Design’s ideas or came up with the nook themselves, they’re not willing to stop the dual-display ebook reader from going on sale while they figure it out.
Whether or not Barnes and Noble liked it enough to copy it, Spring Design's Alex prototype dual-display ebook reader is certainly nifty enough to capture our interest. MaximumPC had a chance to go hands-on with the Alex, which has a 6-inch e-ink screen up top and a 3.5-inch color capacitive touchscreen underneath for control and navigation, as part of a Marvell demonstration for the company's new ARMADA 166E SoC.
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.
Back in the run-up to Barnes and Noble's launch of their nook ebook reader, hitherto-unheard of Spring Design grabbed some headlines with their Alex dual-display ebook design. At the time there was some speculation that the two devices were one and the same, though that turned out not to be the case; according to Spring Design and a lawsuit against B&N, however, the two do in fact share some design DNA. Spring Design allege that B&N knowingly "misappropriated trade secrets and violated the parties' non-disclosure agreement" in designing the nook.
Spring Design's Alex dual-display ebook reader was a surprise announcement earlier this week, seemingly diving into the public eye to make some headlines before Barnes and Noble's nook grabbed all the attention. The company have followed up their render with a jerky video of the device in action, demonstrating its smaller Android display and how you can shoot content from the web-browser up to the larger e-ink panel for easier reading.
Video demo after the cut
Remember the Barnes and Noble dual-display ebook reader spotted in concept form last week? There's obviously something in the water, as Spring Design have just announced an ebook reader, the Alex, with both a 6-inch E Ink panel and a 3.5-inch color touchscreen, based on Google's Android platform and with integrated 3G and WiFi.
The touchscreen can be used to browse the web and grab clippings, which can then be viewed on the e-ink panel. Spring Design have also developed what they call Link Notes, a hybrid of traditional ebooks, clippings, multimedia and user notes. As for production possibilities, the company claim to be in discussion with "selected strategic partners" and "major content" providers, with a release expected by the end of 2009.
Storage is via SD card, and there's a headphones socket and full smartphone functionality. Spring Design call the dual-display system Duet Navigator, and as well as being used to pull up related photos, news articles, media content and more, it will also aid in annotation and searches by offering an on-screen keyboard.