Panasonic, Philips and Sony get together to make Blu-ray Disc licensing simpler - and cheaper - for manufacturers

Blu-ray Disc

It's hoped the simplified - and less expensive - process will encourage more companies to develop BD products, and the 'big three' will be working with other patent holders to set up the programme.

The new independent licensing company, funded equally by the three majors, will be set up in the USA, with branches in Asia, Europe and Latin America.

It's hoped the other patent holders will join in, and become shareholders in the company, which will then administer their patents relevant to BD.

In the past, companies wishing to build Blu-ray Disc hardware have had to acquire a variety of licences, including separate ones for CD, DVD and BD functionality. The new programme will bring all this together in a single licence, and reduce costs.

It's expected that the licence fee for a Blu-ray player will fall about 40%, to $9.50, and that for a BD recorder by a similar amount, to $14.

The fees for discs will be 11 cents for a read-only disc - such a movie, with recordable and rewritable discs at 12 cents and 15 cents respectively.

It's expected the single licence will be available by midway through the year.