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Sharp takes Hisense to court over ‘shoddy’ TVs

The two big-name TV brands clash in court as Sharp accuses Hisense of misleading consumers

Sharp has caused a stir by suing TV manufacturer Hisense, claiming that the Chinese company has released low-quality televisions with its name attached.

The move comes two years into a five-year licensing agreement between the two brands in the US. Hisense strongly denies the claims and says it ‘will continue to manufacture and sell quality televisions under the Sharp brand’.

Keep reading to find out exactly what’s happening, and to see how Hisense TVs score in our tough lab tests.

Best Buy televisions – crystal-clear picture and impressive sound

Sharp vs Hisense: what’s happening?

Tech giant Sharp has filed a lawsuit against Hisense, claiming the company is damaging Sharp’s brand by putting its name on ‘shoddily manufactured’ TVs. The news, coming out of a San Francisco state court, sees the two companies go head to head just two years after putting pen to paper on a licencing agreement.

The deal, signed in 2015, allows Hisense to produce TVs using the Sharp name in the US. The agreement was made when Sharp was struggling financially, with the deal due to run until 2020.

According to Sharp, Hisense has misled consumers over picture quality. The company has also suggested that Hisense has not met US electromagnetic emissions standards.

Unsurprisingly, Hisense has been quick to defend itself. In a statement made to the Wall Street Journal, a spokesperson said the group ‘categorically denies Sharp’s claims in the litigation and looks forward to presenting its case in the appropriate forum’.

We’ve reached out to Sharp for more information, and were told the case only relates to the US market, where Sharp-branded TVs are manufactured by Hisense. In Europe, Sharp’s TVs are made by UMC.

Update, 13.06.17 – Hisense has issued the following statement: “Hisense categorically denies Sharp’s claims in the litigation and looks forward to presenting its case in the appropriate forum. Hisense is in full compliance with the trademark license agreement and Sharp’s attempt to terminate the agreement is of no effect. Hisense will continue to manufacture and sell quality televisions under the Sharp licensed brands”.

In the meantime, see which TV manufacturers we recommend with our Best TV brands advice guide. We’ve surveyed thousands of Which? readers to identify which models are the best when it comes to reliability.

How do Hisense TVs fare in our test lab?

Hisense has made a name for itself as a budget TV manufacturer, well-known for releasing sets for less than £500. We’ve tested Hisense TVs of all sizes in our lab, and while some models do reasonably well when it comes to picture quality, others are let down by blurry visuals and poor colour balance. The worst Hisense television we’ve tested has disappointing sound to match, which means you’ll have to buy a sound bar to avoid weak and tinny audio.

One of the latest Hisense TVs to pass through our test lab is the Hisense H40M2600 (right). It has a 40-inch screen, a Freeview HD tuner and a PVR feature that lets you record your favourite shows on a hard drive. But did this Hisense TV impress our experts enough to earn a Best Buy recommendation? You’ll have to head over to our Hisense H40M2600 review to find out.

To see which televisions have aced our tests, head to our TV reviews. There, you’ll find the latest televisions from the likes of Samsung, LG and Sony. If you’re a buyer on a budget, see our advice on the best cheap TVs.

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