The case of the day is Sharp Corp. v. Hisense USA Corp. (D.D.C. 2017). Sharp, a Japanese electronics company, entered into a trademark license agreement with Hisense, a Chinese manufacturer. The agreement had an agreement to arbitrate disputes in Singapore under the SIAC rules. Sharp terminated the agreement, arguing that Hisense had failed to perform. Hisense demanded arbitration, and it sought emergency relief. The tribunal entered an interim award enjoining Sharp from terminating the agreement and requiring it to continue to perform pending the outcome of the arbitration. The interim award also enjoined Sharp to:
refrain from, directly or indirectly through its affiliates, disparaging [Hisense] and/or disrupting its business, including by making public statements or press releases about this arbitration and/or the dispute between [Hisense] and [Sharp], or approaching [Hisense’s] business associates and/or other third parties (including, but not limited to, [Hisense’s] customers, suppliers, content and service providers, and/or regulatory authorities, except as required by law), in respect of any matters that are to be addressed in arbitration under the [License Agreement].
Yikes! Sharp brought an action in Washington, seeking a declaration that the interim award is unenforceable in the United States because it is contrary to public policy, namely the policies embodied in the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. Sharp also sought a preliminary injunction. Hisense moved to dismiss for want of subject-matter and personal jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted.