Sharp Corp.’s U.S. Legal Battle With Hisense Electric Co.

Two years ago, Sharp sold the right to use its brand in North and South American markets to Chinese TV maker Hisense for $27.8 million.The agreement gave Hisense a five-year license to put the Sharp name of TV’s built in a Mexican factory acquired by Hisense. But Sharp wants its name back from Hisense, which has been allowed to use Sharp’s name in the US but stands accused of making brand-power-erasing knock-off televisions.

According to an article by Engadget, court documents filed by Sharp state that there is a risk of the company’s brand and trademark being “destroyed” by “shoddily manufactured” TVs.

In particular, the company claims the sets violate FCC rules for EMI interference, and that Hisense uses deceptive advertising in promoting the capabilities of the TVs.

The Osaka-based Sharp plans to be more assertive when it comes to demanding patent royalties and may even start filing lawsuits against anyone found using Sharp inventions without permission, a company executive said in an interview.

Sharp’s main patent case so far has been against Hisense over Wi-Fi enabled televisions. The U.S. International Trade Commission last week agreed to investigate a complaint that Hisense is infringing Sharp patents.

Hisense is fighting the patent infringement allegation in a proceeding that could lead to a ban on U.S. imports of some of its televisions. The company filed legal papers blaming Foxconn Technology Co. for Sharp’s new push. Foxconn bought a controlling stake of Sharp in August 2016, turning the electronics maker into a profitable company. But after the acquisition,Sharp and its new owner had second thoughts about the relinquishment of the Sharp brand for the U.S. market and began a multifaceted effort to recover or undermine the rights that Hisense acquired-Sharp is also looking to extend so-called smart home devices that help people regulate heating or appliances in their homes from afar beyond the home through connected devices so that “appliances will become our partners in addressing the needs of both individual households and society as a whole.”

What happens next is anybody’s guess, but clearly Sharp is not pleased with the way things are today as it plans to Monetize Patents Amid Focus on Ultra HD TVs and Smart Home.

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