The Relationship Between Hisense and Sharp America

The TV makers have a complicated history

China-based Hisense and Sharp America are both big names in the TV business. The history between the two companies includes back-and-forth brand and asset ownership, litigation, and more. Here's a look at some of what's transpired between Hisense and Sharp.

Hisense and Sharp Logos
Wikimedia Commons

2015: Hisense Accrues Sharp America's Assets and Brand

In what was a major development in the consumer electronics industry, Hisense, one of China's largest TV makers, acquired the North American manufacturing assets of Japan-based Sharp, as well as securing brand name rights for the U.S. market.

In 2015, Hisense began manufacturing all TVs bearing the Sharp brand name in the U.S. This license for Hisense to use the Sharp brand name had a five-year term with an option to extend.

This Deal's Significance

This deal was significant because Hisense gained a stronger foothold in the U.S. market. It also revealed the weakness of Japan-based TV makers as they faced off against companies like Korea-based LG, Samsung, and China-based TV makers. At the time, Japanese TV makers were struggling, while Korean and China-owned TV brands were increasing their dominance.

A Sad Moment for Sharp

The Hisense-Sharp 2015 deal wasn't unexpected, because Sharp's TV business had faced financial difficulties. Still, it was a sad moment for Sharp because of the company's legacy as an LCD technology pioneer. It was the first TV maker to introduce LCD TVs to the consumer market.

For a few years after the 2015 deal, if you purchased a Sharp TV in the U.S., you were actually buying a Hisense TV.

Sharp's Dramatic Turnaround

In 2016, Taiwan-based Foxconn took over Sharp, and Sharp began a dramatic comeback and financial turnaround.

At one point, in 2017, Sharp sued Hisense, upset about the quality of the TVs that Hisense was manufacturing that bore the Sharp name. Sharp felt strongly that its name and brand license rights were being used inappropriately. While Sharp dropped the lawsuit in 2018, it quietly continued its comeback plans.

In 2019, Sharp regained its licensing and brand, buying back its assets from Hisense. Sharp-manufactured Sharp TVs have been back on the market since late 2019, and the company is promising to incorporate new technology into its Smart TV line as it enters more markets.