Barnes & Noble has reached a settlement in a 2009 lawsuit filed by Spring Design, developer of the Alex Reader, a dual-screen digital reading device, charging that B&N stole the design of the Alex Reader and used it for its own Nook e-reading device. Spring Design also announced it is discontinuing sales of the Alex Reader.
According to the terms of the settlement, Spring Design will grant B&N, “a non-exclusive, paid-up royalty free license for the entire portfolio of Spring Design patents and patent applications.” In a release, B&N said the settlement, “resolves all claims brought by Spring Design, which will be dismissed with prejudice.”
The Spring Design suit charged that after extensive meetings and correspondence with officials of B&N in early 2009, the national retailer violated a nondisclosure agreement and appropriated the Alex Reader’s dual screen design and other features for the original Nook device, which has a similiar dual-screen design and was released about the same time as the Alex Reader.
The Alex Reader was among a rather large group of digital readers introduced in early 2010 that have essentially been surpassed by a new wave of e-readers like the Nookcolor and tablets like the iPad. With the announcement that Spring Design is discontinuing sales of the device, the Alex Reader will take a place alongside a long list of failed e-reading devices like the Skiff Reader, IREX and Plastic Logic’s Que reader. Spring Design said that they will continue to provide to support to consumers who purchased the device.
B&N v-p, general counsel Eugene V. DeFelice, said that B&N was “pleased to put this matter behind us.” DeFelice said that the Nookcolor and original Nook, “together with Spring Design’s patents and patent applications, have become two of our most innovative and highly-sought after devices. Barnes & Noble is pleased to add Spring Design’s patents and patent applications as a complementary addition to our rapidly growing digital portfolio.”