Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp. are working on an agreement that could come as early as this month to jointly develop a new unified standard for next-generation DVDs, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported in its Thursday online edition. The report said Sony and Toshiba stepped up closed-door negotiations around February to find a resolution to the standoff between their competing products. As the leaders of the two camps supporting rival standards, Sony and Toshiba have waged a three-year battle that involves nearly 200 companies worldwide. After reaching a basic agreement that a unified standard would be desirable, they are now looking to develop a hybrid standard that takes advantage of each standard's strengths, the Nikkei said. Sony is said to have proposed using Blu-ray's disc structure and HD DVD software technology. Toshiba has presented the idea of using HD DVD's disc structure, which is closer to that of current DVDs, and employing Sony's multi-layer data-recording technology, the report said. Although the companies have yet to forge a detailed agreement, the talks are expected to produce a workable solution since both companies are likely to be eager to avoid a repeat of the VHS-Beta videocassette war. The Nikkei report said Sony and Toshiba have already begun briefing Walt Disney Co. and AOL Time Warner Inc., as well as Hollywood movie studios, for approval of a unified standard and to pave the way for the signing of an official agreement between the rival camps.