Toshiba, LG Sign HD DVD Patent Deal

Toshiba and LG Electronics have signed an agreement to share worldwide patents for optical disc products, namely, the upcoming Toshiba HD DVD format. The cross-license pact between the Japanese and South Korean firms is expected to accelerate product development and decrease costs for optical products, according to a joint statement and the Associated Press.

Toshiba and Sony are in a race to push its respective next-generation DVD format to the consumer forefront in North America and globally, with both sides gearing up for a product premiere in the next several months. While Sony's Blu-ray was widely perceived in recent months to have an edge among partnerships with Hollywood content providers and supporting industries, the HD DVD team has shown no reluctance publicly to press forward with its somewhat less costly product line.

Toshiba reportedly still plans to start selling its HD DVD players in America starting next month, which would be the first launch anywhere, and would beat Blu-ray's rollout by perhaps a few months. Whether the timing proves advantageous to Toshiba --especially considering the low percentage of HD households in early 2006-- is yet to be seen.