Amazon recently held a very exclusive unveiling of their new Kindle Fire product line and one of the things they hyped up was Quiet Time. This is a new feature that seeks to eliminate the distraction from reading on a tablet by suspending the radios, pausing app notifications and stopping nagging popups. Many tech analysts were enamored with Quiet Time, but it could quite possibly be in violation of patents owned by Kobo.
In August Kobo unveiled a new feature for their new line of HD tablets called Reading Mode. Reading Mode is a new option that will see the light of day when the new Kobo Arc HD 10 and HD 7 are launched this October. It basically is a setting that you can turn on and will eliminate all notifications you would normally receive on your device. This really solves the problem of being distracted on your tablet while you are reading a magazine, eBook or graphic novel.
Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis at their product launch event mentioned the company has a number of patents for Reading Mode. Good e-Reader Research has found three patents that are applicable. The first is the user experience of reading mode – including the minimization of ambient influences to provide a more conducive reading environment. The second is launching of reading mode and the last book read to reinforce reading-first application/use. The last and most important is distraction free reading which includes the customization of settings for an uninterrupted, optimized reading experience such as – muting sounds, reducing screen brightness, disable radios, adjusting fonts, margins, etc.
Amazon Quiet Time may possibly be in violation of Kobo Reading Mode and so far both companies remain silent on this matter. After looking at many of the screenshots and samples of the features on the Amazon tablets it looks very much the same as what Kobo did first. To date, Kobo has never instigated a lawsuit, but has been in court over a number of issues, including the exclusivity clause in the contract with Borders when it filed for bankruptcy.
It will be very interesting to see how this plays out and if Amazon will engage in licensing to Kobo. If this does result in a prospective lawsuit, Kobo has fairly deep pockets to make a go of it by way of Rakuten.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.