Research Frontiers says E Ink, Sony, Amazon and B&N infringe upon their SPD technology patents

One three days ago we reported that CopyTele's lawsuit against E Ink was dismissed (although they do have to participate in the CopyTele vs AUO arbitration meetings) - and today a new lawsuit was charged against E Ink, Amazon, B&N and Sony, this time by Research Frontiers.

Research Frontiers developed a technology called SPD, a smart light-control technology. They say that E Ink and the other companies infringed upon two of their patents. Research Frontiers say they have invested about $90 million dollar in decades of research to develop the SPD technology. Over 40 companies around the world entered into a license agreement with them.

Will e-readers manage to survive?

E Ink Holdings published their January financial results, and the revenue was about $48 million - which is a 63% drop compared to last year (and 11% drop compared to December). Despite this the company is still expected to post revenues of over NT$40 billion in 2012 - a 5% increase over 2011.

Amazon Kindle 2011 product range

Some say that this marks the "end of the e-reader" - with tablets clearly winning the race. Some analysts are suggesting that Amazon will sell less Kindle e-readers in 2012 then was expected, but more Kindle Fires. This is an interesting debate. Most people agree that a dedicated e-paper reader is far better as a reading device but tablets are obviously much more versatile.

Angry birds on a rooted Nook Touch

Here's a nice video showing a game of Angry Birds on a rooted Nook Touch e-reader. Unfortunately, the device is too slow for this game which flashes a lot and does't handle the actual game animation at all:

The Nook Touch (Wi-Fi version) costs $139.

PVI shows 6" and 9.7" color E Ink prototypes, in talks with Amazon and B&N

Update: we've got a video of the new prototype displays, see below

PVI is now showing 6" and 9.7" color E Ink displays for e-readers at a trade show in Shenzhen, China. The displays are demoing animated color clips, although the refresh rate is not fast enough for video. PVI has shown those screens to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, although they won't say whether there are any plans to use them in future e-readers.

Color E Ink prototype

PVI predicts mass-production to start 4Q 2010. The new PVI screens add an extra layer of color-filtering glass on top of a standard E Ink panel. The color screens consume more energy than monochrome ones. PVI also displayed new flexible displays, made from plastic which could make readers lighter and harder to break.

Barnes and Noble officially releases their new reader, the "nook"

Barnes and Noble officially announced their e-reader, the "Nook". It's got two displays - a 6" E Ink (16-level gray) and a 3.5" touch LCD. The Nook runs on Google's Android platform, has 2GB of memory built in and a microSD card slot, and can play MP3 files, photos and more. It supports ePub, PDFs and more formats. There's free wireless in the US (via AT&T) and Wi-Fi, too.

The Nook is available from Barnes & Noble's site, for 259$. It will ship in November.

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