alexSpring Design has filed a lawsuit against Barnes & Noble, alleging that the bookstore chain copied the features of an electronic book reader that is about to hit the market.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Spring Design said it showed off its Alex eBook reader (right) to B&N under a non-disclosure agreement. The suit alleges that B&N then copied the Alex’s features into its recently announced Nook eBook reader (below). The Alex has two screens: a black-and-white screen for reading books, and a color screen for shopping for book titles. The Nook has the same features, and both use a new Armada 166E chip from Marvell.

alex 2“We showed the Alex eBook design to Barnes & Noble in good faith with the intention of working together to provide a superior dual screen eBook to the market,” said Eric Kmiec, vice president of sales and marketing at Spring Design.

Spring Design first developed and began filing patents on its Alex eBook, an innovative dual screen, Android-based eBook back in 2006. Since the beginning of 2009, Spring Design and B&N worked within an NDA. They had many meetings, emails and conference calls with executives ranging up to the president of, discussing confidential information regarding the features, functionality and capabilities of Alex. Throughout the process, B&N executives praised the Alex for its innovation. We haven’t yet reached B&N for comment.