The courtroom seems to be the next destination of the tussle between Amazon and Barnes & Noble as they use all measures including price cuts to win over the other in e-reader leadership. Amazon has been granted a patent recently by the USPTO for their secondary LCD displays.In fact, it is quite a few patents that Amazon has been awarded though the most notable amongst them is the one on Handheld electronic book reader device having dual displays.
The claim covers aspects which would surely affect the Nook as well as many other similar devices including devices that have electronic paper or LCD displays. A similar patent had been granted to Kindle for their scroll-navigational panel. Surprisingly Amazon has agreed not even to file any foreign patents during the four years that it took to process this patent case. One of the claims or clause that could create problem for Barnes & Noble as it covers nearly every device that uses an LCD display or electronic paper is as follows:
“A handheld electronic device comprising: a housing; an electronic paper display disposed in the housing and having a first surface area; and a liquid crystal display (LCD) disposed in the housing proximate the electronic paper display, the LCD having a second surface area that is smaller than the first surface area of the electronic paper display.”
The Nook has both an electronic ink as well as an LCD display; it therefore falls in the category of violating this patent term. It remains to be seen whether Amazon is planning to sue any of the company or manufactures using this patent. There is however a flurry of legal activity that is taking place at all the major e-reader makers’ sites. Time would speak the path this game is going to go. There had been the case of Barnes & Noble being involved in a dispute with Spring Design on a trade secret issue. Spring Design had claimed that B&N had copied their Alex Reader technology to their Nook. With that case yet pending and in process there is a chance that while these two fight each other on this issue they would join hands simultaneously against Amazon. There is a chance therefore that e-reader development may not take a back seat with tablet Pc making headway. This due to the shrinking market for –readers as well as low margin and then the cost of litigation added would not make it a profitable venture any more.
The patent was sought more than four years ago, on March 2006, only to be awarded just a few days back.
Keep watching to see how things pan out as there seems to be a lot of action coming up in the days to come.