Sharp sues Hisense over quality of TVs

Hisense and Sharp TVs next to each other

There is seemingly no love lost between Sharp and Hisense since they penned their licensing deal back in 2015 agreeing that the latter can manufacturer TVs under the Sharp name. Fast-forward two years later and now Sharp are calling out Hisense for “shoddily” made products that could potentially harm its reputation.

Reports suggest the licensing deal for the Americas (excluding Brazil) – meant to run until 2020 – agreed between Sharp and Hisense could be terminated, with Sharp taking the Chinese brand to court over “unlawful, unfair and fraudulent conduct.” Legal papers from Sharp HQ claim that Hisense has broken US rules on electromagnetic emissions, picture size labelling, safety violations, in addition to falsely advertising brightness levels and 4K resolution – all of which it says ultimately could cause “trademarks to lose value.”

Hisense has since “categorically” denied such accusations, saying it will "continue to manufacture and sell quality televisions under the Sharp brand” in spite of the legal action.

Sharp signed the agreement amidst its financial difficulties back in 2015, before Taiwan-based electronics specialist Foxconn bought a controlling stake in the company for US $3.8 billion (£3 billion/€3.4 billion) Now in financially healthier position, Sharp is rumoured to be keen to regain control of the brand name in the US with the lawsuit.

Sharp has refused to publically comment further on the legal outcome. Foxconn’s Intellectual Property team have a reputation for being particularly shrewd at protecting the company’s non-patent intangibles – regardless, it will be interesting to see how the sale of Sharp goods in the US are affects, whatever the outcome.