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Report: Sharp tightens grip on patents as it focuses on value-added products

Japanese consumer electronics maker Sharp Corp. will tighten its grip on its patents as it increases its focus on value-added products such as high-resolution televisions and smart home devices, according to an Oct. 4 report by Bloomberg, which cited a company executive.

The Osaka-based company, known for its liquid crystal display televisions, will start charging patent royalties and could sue for any use of Sharp's inventions without permission, the article said, citing an interview with Rey Roque, vice president of strategic business development for Sharp Electronics in Santa Ana, Calif.

Roque's comments come at a time when Sharp is embroiled in a legal battle against a Chinese rival over patent rights.

In July, Sharp filed a patent infringement suit against Chinese consumer electronics maker Hisense Electric Co. Ltd. and its subsidiaries in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District Court of New York. Sharp alleged that Hisense had infringed on its wireless local area network patents for smart TVs manufactured and sold in the U.S., and demanded that the Qingdao-based company pay compensation and stop manufacturing and selling the products. In August, Sharp petitioned the U.S. International Trade Commission to investigate its claim that Hisense and its subsidiaries had infringed Sharp's wireless LAN patents and for it to block imports as well as sales of already imported products by the Chinese company. On Sept. 27, the USITC said it would proceed with investigations.

Hisense, which gained the right to sell televisions under the Sharp brand in the U.S. in 2015, attributed the complaints to Sharp's acquisition by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd., which took over Sharp in August 2016, saying that the two companies were trying to recover or undermine Hisense's rights, according to Bloomberg.

Roque, who declined to provide details on the Hisense case, noted that Sharp would consider litigation on a case-by-case basis and that it could also go outside the U.S. to strengthen its patent rights, the article said.