MPEG LA LLC, a company that offers licenses for bundles of patents related to key audio-visual technologies, has taken its first step towards the creation of a license for the Blu-ray Disc format.
Blu-ray Disc is one of two new optical disc formats being positioned as a replacement for DVD for high-definition content. Both it and the other format, HD-DVD, rely on blue laser technology to increase the total storage capacity of a 12 centimeter disc to several times that of DVDs. The first HD-DVD players are due on the market later this year while Blu-ray Disc players are not expected to be available until sometime in 2006.
Blu-ray Disc counts a number of major electronics companies as key backers of the format, including Sony Corp., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (Panasonic), Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Hitachi Ltd., LG Electronics Inc., Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Philips Electronics NV, Pioneer Electronics Corp., Sharp Corp., TDK Corp. and Thomson Multimedia SA.
Any license to make Blu-ray Disc-compatible products will likely involve patents owned by some or all of these companies and licensing them separately would be a time-consuming process. Companies like MPEG LA seek to streamline this process by offering bundles of patents and acting as a one-stop shop.
MPEG LA has just issued a request for companies who feel they own patents that are essential to Blu-ray Disc to make their claims, said Larry Horn, a spokesman for the Maryland-based group. MPEG LA hopes to gather relevant parties together sometime in February to discuss collective licensing, he said.
“We’re trying to make as big a patent pool as possible,” he said Tuesday.
MPEG LA is already licensing groups of patents associated with MPEG2, MPEG4, AVC/H.264, IEEE1394 and DVB-T.