We first covered the lawsuit by Spring Design, maker of the dual-screened Alex e-reader, against Barnes & Noble back in November, 2009. Spring Design claimed that it had designed the Alex in 2006 and worked with Barnes & Noble since early 2009, and that B&N took advantage of this cooperation to copy features of the Alex’s design (notably, the addition of a color LCD panel to a greyscale e-ink panel) in the Nook.

Now Reuters reports that Barnes & Noble has failed to convince a judge to dismiss the lawsuit. The judge cited a “significant factual dispute” over whether the Alex had influenced the design of the Nook, and said it was premature to reject charges of trade secret theft. A pretrial conference has been scheduled for February 7th.

I have to wonder whether, by the time it comes to trial, it’s even going to be a relevant issue. Like so many other e-reader manufacturers, the Alex is stuck in the two-years-back price bracket at $299, while its competitors are now going for less than half that. But perhaps Spring Design figures that if it can’t make a profit on its e-readers through sale, it can at least scoop up damages in a lawsuit.


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