Star Trek: The Dark Age
In 2759 (306 P.C, ‘71 P.S.C.) when the U.S.S. Praetorian was first brought back to Proxima Secundus to study, the newly formed United Nations very quickly realized that neither they nor the C.C.S.B. possessed the expertise or the finances to properly explore (and indeed exploit) this wondrous new find.
So the decision was made to involve the larger global corporations – particularly those with previous experience in armaments contracting and military procurement. The deal was simple, they put in the research and money and were allowed to benefit from the marketing spin-offs of whatever they found.
Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that even the largest of the world’s big businesses did not possess the capital and expertise on their own to tackle the sub-projects given to them in a timely manner so the U.N. (at the behest of the President of the N.T.C.) altered the anti-collusion legislation which currently existed in order to allow groups of corporations to assemble and work on the same sub-projects together. Under this new arrangement, individual businesses within these groups could then share any patents or other marketable finds among themselves while still maintaining a competitive edge as a group.
This became known as the International Combines Act of ‘71 since the groups of corporations were at the time known as Combines.
Notable Combines include Charter Arms (a small arms manufacturing group) and Consolidated Motors (a ground vehicle manufacturer which came into existence shortly before the Global War erupted and whose most notable product is the ONTOS test bed vehicle).