Barnes & Noble Settles Legal Clash With Spring Design

Spring Design, which manufactures the Alex Reader, sued Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) back in 2009, saying the book seller had taken many of the ideas in Alex Reader and incorporated them into its own Nook product. It claimed that Barnes & Noble had violated trade secret and unfair competition laws, as well as violating Spring Design’s patent rights. The case has now been settled on undisclosed terms.

Barnes & Noble’s Nook, which first shipped in October 2009, was the first e-reader to ship with two screens. The Alex Reader didn’t get onto the market until spring 2010, and is now being phased out.

Whatever the merits of Spring Design’s lawsuit, there’s no question that the Alex Reader’s price point was simply unsustainable in the e-reader market. For the 2010 holiday season, the Alex Reader went on sale for $349, at a time when entry-level Nooks and Kindles were being sold for $139.

Even though financial terms of the settlement with Spring Design weren’t disclosed, Barnes & Noble did get a license to all of Spring Design’s patents. Which raises the question of where Spring Design goes from here-in particular, whether the company will find more alleged patent violations among Barnes & Noble’s competitors in the e-reader market. Spring says only that it’s focused “on developing next generation eReader products and services.”