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China favours EVD over DVD

Local spec preferred to international tech

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China has formally declared its Enhanced Video Disc (EVD) format the national standard for digital video discs, its Ministry of Information Industry (MII) said this week.

Work began on EVD in 1999, with funding from China's State Trade and Economic Commission and MII, with a view to creating an alternative to DVD. Crucially, EVD frees Chinese player makers from the licence fees that must be paid to make DVD-branded machines.

More to the point, perhaps, China doesn't want this part of its blooming consumer electronics industry to be in hock to overseas companies. The format will allow domestic manufacturers to "shake off their previous dependence on foreign technologies", as the Communist Party newspaper, the People's Daily, put it at the time.

Like DVD, EVD video data is compressed, but according to the format's developers, Beijing-based E-World and US digital video technology company On2, it is capable of displaying HDTV images, a feat currently not possible with the established standard.

The DVD licence fees are already the subject of a lawsuit brought by Chinese DVD player makers Wuxi Multimedia and Orient Power (Wuxi) who claim the 3C Patent Group's licensing regime limits their ability to compete effectively in the DVD player market. They say the 3C group charges Chinese manufacturers rather more than it does US-based companies. That, the plaintiffs maintain, is discriminatory, unfair and contrary to US antitrust law. Both companies are seeking the return of royalties paid, plus damages and a ruling that the DVD patent pool is invalid. ®

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