EU Says Yes to DVD Manufacturers' Patent Pool

The European Commission has approved an agreement by some of the developers of DVD (digital versatile disc) technology to pool their patents, it said Monday.

Hitachi Ltd , Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd , Mitsubishi Electric Corp , Time Warner Inc and Toshiba Corp have agreed to contribute their DVD patents to a single nonexclusive license program to be administered by Toshiba, the Commission said in a statement. This patent pool would help promote technical and economic progress by allowing quick and efficient introduction of the DVD technology, the Commission said.

The firms notified the Commission about the agreement in May 1999 to allow the EU executive body to consider its implications for competition in Europe.

Competition officials concluded that the agreement doesn't contain "unnecessary or excessive" restrictions on competition. In addition to the companies mentioned above, DVD technology was also developed by Sony Corp, Japan's Victor Co Ltd, Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV, Pioneer Corp. and France's Thomson SA. The French company is the only one not to have agreed to pool patents.

The European Commission can be reached at +-32-2-299-11-11 or found on the Web at http://europa.eu.int/. Toshiba Corp., in Tokyo, can be found online at http://www.toshiba.co.jp/. Sony Corp., in Tokyo, can be found online at http://www.sony.co.jp/. Matsushita Electric Industrial, in Osaka, can be contacted at +81-6-6908-1121 or online at http://www.mei.co.jp/. Mitsubishi Electric, in Tokyo, can be found online at http://www.melco.co.jp/. Time Warner, in New York, can be reached at +1-212-484-8000 or at http://www.timewarner.com/. Hitachi, in Tokyo, can be found at +81-3-3258-1111, or online at http://www.hitachi.co.jp/. Hitachi, in Tokyo, can be found at +81-3-3258-1111, or online at http://www.hitachi.co.jp/. Philips Electronics, in Eindhoven, Netherlands, can be found online at http://www.philips.com/.

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