U.S. trade body will probe Sharp-Hisense patent dispute

A logo of Sharp Corp is pictured at CEATEC (Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies) JAPAN 2016 at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan, October 3, 2016. Picture taken October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. International Trade Commission has agreed to probe certain Wi-Fi enabled devices and their parts after Japan’s Sharp Corp accused China’s Hisense Group Co Ltd of infringing its patents, the body said on Wednesday.

The investigation, which Sharp requested in August, marks an escalation of a dispute between the two electronics makers. Sharp, which had licensed Hisense to use the brand to sell televisions in the United States, sued the Chinese state-owned firm for putting the Sharp name on what it has called low-quality TVs.

Sharp is owned by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, often referred to as Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics maker.

Sharp, which had reduced its overseas TV business, now sees that as a growth driver and has said it would re-enter the U.S. market with a high-end TV brand.

Companies often sue in court to win monetary damages, and at the International Trade Commission to block the import of products infringing on a U.S. patent.

The commission said it would announce a target date for completing the probe within 45 days.

Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Eric Walsh and Richard Chang