Spring Design, B&N lawsuit to continue

Do you recall the lawsuit filed by Spring Deisgn? Actually, a better question would be whether you know that the company exists.It's been so long since Spring Design were in the news that I'm going to have to write a fair amount of background.

Spring Design are a Calif. based company with a single product, the Alex ereader. This is a dual screen Android based ereader which they announced last fall. It looks a lot like the Nook. Hardly anyone bought it and I'm a little surprised to find the company still operating.

I reviewed it back in April.

Spring Design sued B&N last year because of the similarity between the 2 ereaders. The basis for the lawsuit is that over the course of several meetings B&N copied ideas from Spring Design and incorporated them into the Nook.

I don't think there's much of a case here. I happened to bump into a Spring Design engineer at CES 2010, and he didn't think B&N copied anything.  B&N already had the Nook's hardware design complete before Spring Design saw it, and when the Nook was launched it had pretty crappy set of software features.

Also, I've had my hands on a Spring Design Alex. I don't see what features on the Nook were copied from it. The Alex had many neat tricks that the Nook could have used but did not.

Anyway, back to today's news story. B&N tried to get the case dropped. On Monday U.S. District Judge James Ware ruled against B&N. The case will continue.

via Reuters

About Nate Hoffelder (11585 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

5 Comments on Spring Design, B&N lawsuit to continue

  1. The suit alleges that B&N misappropriated four trade secrets from Spring. The judge did throw one out because it wasn’t a secret. Visible features can’t remain trade secrets, so it’s probably something about *how* something is accomplished, most likely software. Of course, because they’re secrets, the public court filings won’t tell us what they are.

    There’s also the breach of contract allegation related to the NDA, and the unfair competition allegations related both to the trade secret misappropriation and to advertising claims that NOOK was the first ereader with certain features.

    Anyway, the judge (James Ware) did feel that there was enough of a case to put before a jury, except for the one purported trade secret that the judge determined wasn’t secret.

  2. B&N asserted from the beginning that its contracts with Spring didn’t preclude them from basically ripping them off. Whatever the case may be, it did seem verrrry strange that out of nowhere B&N came up with such an advanced device design seemingly out of nowhere — until, hello!, Spring Design popped up and that seemed to explain all of it.

  3. @Mike — I’m suprised to read that you think the nook is an advanced design. If my only choice were between the Kindle and the nook, I’d be hard pressed based on design — both are esthetically terrible.

  4. have fun at your deposition inquiring who the SD engineer was at CES 2010……

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