EU says yes to DVD manufacturers' patent pool
Paul Meller, IDG News Service - Brussels Bureau

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

Hitachi, Matsushita Electric Industrial, Mitsubishi Electric, Time Warner and Toshiba have agreed to contribute their DVD patents to a single nonexclusive licence programme to be administered by Toshiba, the Commission says. This patent pool would help promote technical and economic progress by allowing quick and efficient introduction of the DVD technology, the Commission adds.

The firms notified the Commission about the agreement in May 1999 to allow the EU executive body to consider the 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, Japan's Victor, Philips Electronics, Pioneer and France's Thomson SA. The French company is the only one not to have agreed to pool patents.

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