Panasonic, Philips, and Sony are working with Blu-ray disc patent holders in creating a company that would handle all licensing of the technology.
The new company, which the partners described as a "one-stop shop," would be led by Gerald Rosenthal, former head of intellectual property at IBM. The licensing entity, expected to launch in the middle of this year, would be based in the United States with satellite offices in Asia, Europe, and Latin America.
"By establishing a new licensing entity that offers a single license for Blu-ray disc products at attractive rates, I am confident that it will foster the growth of the Blu-ray disc market and serve the interest of all companies participating in this market, be it as licensee or licensor," Rosenthal said in a statement released Wednesday.
If the partners can get approval from all patent holders, than all Blu-ray products would be charged a flat fee, which would go into a pool and divided among patent holders. Hardware manufacturers would be charged $9.50 for a Blu-ray player and $14 for a recorder. Disc manufacturers would be charged 11 cents for a read-only disc, 12 cents for a recordable disc and 15 cents for a rewritable disc.
Blu-ray became the dominant high-definition DVD format after Toshiba withdrew support from its competing standard HD DVD in February 2008. Sales of Blu-ray discs and equipment, however, have been sluggish as consumers have been unwilling to pay more when their current standard DVD products are good enough, analysts say.
Prices, however, have been coming down. While manufacturers originally expected to a premium for Blu-ray devices, bare-bones players today are available on Amazon.com for less than $200.
Take a look back at the format battle between Blu-ray and HD DVD. InformationWeek has published an independent analysis of this topic. Download the report here (registration required).