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Sony and Royal Philips Acquire InterTrust

November 14, 2002|Jon Healey | Times Staff Writer

Eager to establish an alternative to anti-piracy technology from Microsoft Corp., Sony Corp. and Royal Philips Electronics on Wednesday snapped up struggling InterTrust Technologies Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., for $453 million.

The companies plan to combine their digital rights management technologies with InterTrust's patented offerings, then make the products widely available to other firms, officials said. The technologies would help consumer electronics and entertainment companies protect movies, music and other items as they're transmitted digitally to and around the home.

An early entrant in the field of rights management, InterTrust once had deals to protect the digital music sold by several music companies. But those companies have moved on to other more user-friendly approaches, and Microsoft has emerged as the dominant supplier of rights management technology.

In recent months, InterTrust has focused mainly on litigation -- it's suing Microsoft for patent infringement -- and on consulting instead of selling products.

The goal for Philips and Sony is to create an open platform that a wide array of companies would use to protect digital files, Philips spokesman Jeremy Cohen said. The partners plan to make it easier for companies to obtain InterTrust's key technologies, although they still plan to collect licensing fees, he said.

A Sony-Philips joint venture, Fidelio Acquisitions Co., made the purchase for $4.25 per InterTrust share.

InterTrust shares rose 89 cents to $4.26 on Nasdaq.

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