November 4, 2009

Nookie trouble

by

Spring Design's Alex: Like the Nook, it has a color touch screen with an e-ink display, and uses the Android operating system.

Spring Design's Alex: Like the Nook, it has a color touch screen with an e-ink display, and uses the Android operating system.

An e-reader design company that says it worked with Barnes & Noble to design the Nook E-Reader is suing B&N over “misappropriated trade secrets” and theft of intellectual property according to a press release on PR Inside. Spring Design announced its own, very similar e-reader, the Alex, the day before B&N launched the Nook.

In the release, Spring Design’s Eric Kmiec says, “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.”

The release continues, “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.”

A CNet News report says the lawsuit, filed in a federal court in San Jose, California, “seeks both monetary damages as well as a halt to sales of the Nook.”

Barnes & Noble, which begins shipping the Nook later this month, declined to comment.

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives

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