Justice Department greenlights DVD patent licensing

The Justice Department gave the go-ahead yesterday for six manufacturers jointly to license patents so other companies can produce DVD discs and players. Following the decision Hitachi, Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial
Co., Ltd. (Panasonic), Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Time Warner Inc., Toshiba Corporation and Victor Company of Japan, Ltd. (JVC), today
announced that they have commenced a worldwide joint licensing program for patents essential for DVD-Video players, DVD-ROM drives, DVD decoders and DVD-Video and DVD-ROM discs. The step will make it much easier for third parties to develop DVD-based products, which will boost the market substantially in the long run.

Pooling the patents held by the six businesses will reduce costs for obtaining the technology, while raising little possibility of competitive harm, said Joel I. Klein, assistant attorney general in charge of the department’s antitrust division, in a letter.

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