Sony and Philips bought InterTrust for $453M. All InterTrust has of value is some patents on digital rights management (DRM). I thought that Microsoft and others had figured out ways around those patents. Sony and Philips must really be convinced that InterTrust DRM is going to take off in a big way, and that Microsoft and others will pay royalties.
There is a political battle over DRM shaping up between Hollywood/RIAA and the computer industry. According to this Mercury News story, trade groups representing Microsoft/Intel/HP are lobbying to fight a law mandating DRM as the law is likely to favor Hollywood and cripple computer technology.
The Microsoft/Intel/HP alliance also wants DRM, but they want to do it with technology instead of laws. The enabling technology is called TCPA/Palladium/LaGrande, and I don't know what the DRM will be called. I think the Microsoft/Intel/HP approach is much superior, and any laws that might be passed now would be a disaster.