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Sharp asks US trade body to probe Hisense in patent dispute

[TOKYO] Japan's Sharp Corp said on Wednesday it has requested the US International Trade Commision (ITC) to investigate Hisense Group, escalating a dispute in which it has accused the Chinese firm of patent infringement.

Sharp, which has licensed use of its brand to sell TVs in the Americas to Hisense, sued the Chinese firm in the United States this year, saying the firm is putting the Sharp name on what it described as low-quality TVs.

Hisense declined to provide an immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

Companies frequently sue both at the ITC, which has the authority to block the import of products that infringe a US patent, as well as in court to win monetary damages.

Sharp reduced its overseas TV business when massive losses at its core display panel unit put its survival at risk, but now sees the business as one of the growth drivers following a recent earnings turnaround.

It has said it is expanding a TV sales drive in China and re-entering the Americas television market with a high-end brand, part of a plan to double global TV sales to over 10 million sets in the business year beginning next April.

Sharp is owned by Hon Hai Precision Industry, the world's largest contract electronics maker also known as Foxconn.