After more than a year of litigation, both companies announced that Barnes & Noble now has "a non-exclusive, paid-up royalty free license for the entire portfolio of Spring Design patents and patent applications."
Although financial details of the licensing agreement weren't disclosed, this effectively ends the dispute over whether dual-screen B&N Nooks illegally infringe upon the dual-screen Alex, which Spring Design claims was shown to Barnes & Noble before it released the Nook.
Such legal settlements are often good news for consumers, since it can mean more choices. (Check our e-book readers section online and our E-reader Ratings, available to subscribers, for more details on the Nook, the Alex, and other models.) But don't expect to run out and find cheaper Alex e-readers. According to the company website:
In order to focus our resources on developing next generation eReader products and services, Spring Design is discontinuing retail sales of the Alex Reader at this time.
What's more, while dedicated and relatively inexpensive e-books have claimed a strong foothold among digital literature fans, more expensive multi-purpose tablet computers, such as the Apple iPad 2, could have a certain appeal for those still on the fence. (For help on deciding, see our e-book reader buying guide and watch our video, Amazon Kindle vs. Apple iPad.)
Barnes & Noble Settles Patent Suit Over Nook E-Reader [Wall Street Journal]
Barnes & Noble, Inc. Settles Litigation with Spring Design [Barnes & Nobel]
Spring Design Alex dies, forever remembered as the one that looked like the Nook [Engadget]
The Alex Reader is Being Phased Out [The eBook Reader]
Apple's iBookstore Now Sells Ebooks From All Six Major Publishers [Gizmodo]