We knew something was up with the Spring Design Alex
dual-screen ebook reader the instant we saw its hastily-prepared web site
published the night before Barnes & Noble's Nook launch
, and it appears that our hunch was right: Spring Design just filed a trade secret lawsuit against B&N, alleging that their designers showed the Alex to the bookseller's execs before the Nook was developed. According to Spring Design, the two companies had been in contact with each other over ereader designs since the beginning of the year, with various executives exchanging calls, meetings and product details under NDA -- which would certainly explain why there are suddenly two Android-based ereaders on the market with dual electronic ink and capacitive LCD touchscreen displays. Definitely suspicious, but we'd also note that the Nook and Alex actually work quite differently: users browse the web on the Alex's touchscreen and then "print" the content they want to read
to the electronic ink display, while the Nook doesn't have a browser and the touchscreen is only used for navigation, not content. We're digging for as much info as we can, and we'll hit you with more info as soon as we get it -- stay tuned.