Electronics firms team on patents

Move expected to save money for manufacturers

Sony, Matsushita and other electronics firms will launch a company to jointly manage patents for digital broadcasting equipment, according to Japanese press reports.

Move is expected to save money for manufacturers, who negotiate separately with each patent holder.

Skedded to open this year, the as-yet-unnamed company will license patents related to digital data transmission to local and foreign entities. The savings to licensees will be as high as 80%. The patented technology can be used for digital terrestrial broadcasts to home sets and mobile devices.

Japanese companies reportedly considering a stake in the joint venture include Mitsubishi Electric, Toshiba, Hitachi, JVC and pubcaster NHK. Amounts and percentages of capital investments are still under discussion.

Joint venture will be the first of its kind in the fiercely competitive Japanese electronics industry. The need to smooth the transition to digital terrestrial broadcasting, skedded for 2011, has overridden the desire for short-term profits from individual patents.

The potential market is enormous. As of the end of 2005, some 6.4 million sets were able to receive digital terrestrial signals, with that number forecast to grow to more than 50 million by 2011.

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