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Sharp drops suit against China's Hisense over TV brands

Japan-based group has tried to reverse deal that saw it exit North American market

OSAKA -- Electronics maker Sharp has abandoned legal action to stop China's Hisense group from selling televisions in North America under the Japan-based company's brands.

As of Thursday, Sharp had dropped a U.S. federal lawsuit and an action filed with a U.S. trade body.

Sharp has sought to wrest back rights to sell televisions under its own brands in order to reenter the North American TV market -- the world's second-largest, after China -- using its existing brand names. Softening its approach to Hisense may help unstick negotiations with the Chinese manufacturer.

In 2015, Sharp licensed Hisense to sell liquid-crystal display TVs under the Sharp and Aquos trademarks in North America for five years starting from 2016, having decided to exit that market amid financial difficulties.

But Sharp changed strategies following its sale in the summer of 2016 to Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn. Osaka-based Sharp sought to buy its brands back, but was repeatedly rebuffed by Hisense.

Things turned combative beginning in the spring of 2017, with Sharp suing Hisense in U.S. federal court for patent infringement and other complaints. It also sought to have its Chinese peer investigated by the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Hisense, meanwhile, plans to complete its purchase of struggling Japanese conglomerate Toshiba's TV business in the coming weeks. The deal would allow it to use the Toshiba brand worldwide for the next 40 years.

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