Toshiba, LG cross-license optical drive patents

LG Electronics and Toshiba have agreed to give each company access to the other's patents related to optical drive technology, they said Thursday.

Two of Asia's largest electronics companies, South Korea's LG Electronics and Japan's Toshiba, have signed an agreement that will give each company access to the other's patents related to optical drive technology, they said Thursday.

The patent cross-licensing agreement covers worldwide patents held by both companies on products and technology related to optical discs, optical disc drives, players and recorders, the two companies said in a statement.

Such deals are becoming increasingly common among major IT companies because they offer a way to speed-up and reduce the cost of development of new products. As competition in the market increases and prices continue to fall, both of these issues -- cost and time-to-market -- are becoming increasingly important.

Strengthening the ability and speed with which competitive products can be brought to market is the prime goal of Thursday's agreement, Toshiba said in the statement.

Toshiba signed one such cross-licensing agreement last year with Microsoft covering computer and consumer electronics products technologies. The year also saw agreements between Chi Mei Optoelectronics and Hitachi and between AU Optronics and IBM on LCD (liquid crystal display) technologies; and between Sony and Japanese oil company Idemitsu Kosan Co. on OLED-related patents.

This year Finland's Nokia and Japan's Kyocera ended a series of patent disputes related to cell phones in January by signing a patent cross-licensing agreement, and Samsung Electronics Co. and AU Optronics inked a broad patent cross-licensing agreement covering display technology.

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