Business As Usual For Onkyo As Gibson Files Chpt. 11
Despite the recent changes to ownership status of the Onkyo brand outside of the United States and Japan, the new CEO of Onkyo USA wants customers here to know that as far as the development and sales of U.S. Onkyo AV equipment is concerned it will be business as usual into the future.
Jason Sausto, CEO and sole owner of Onkyo USA, said that the recent acquisition of the trademark and marketing rights for certain Onkyo products and categories sold outside of Japan by China’s TCL, and the Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing by one-time part owner Gibson Brands, will have no impact on the development and sales of home theater AV products marketed here by Onkyo USA.
Sausto took ownership of Onkyo USA in September 2017 after a decade in senior management positions with Onkyo Corporation, including president of Onkyo China and president of Pioneer Onkyo Marketing Asia. Sausto was one of the founding members of the Booking.com group before it was sold to The Priceline Group, as well as managing director, Asia for Red Herring, the global media conglomerate that was the bible of the Silicon Valley boom.
“As of September 2017 (and that date is key because it predates any and all announcements issued by Gibson and TCL), Onkyo USA is a separate, private company,” said Sausto. “Onkyo USA’s business does not change and remains unaffected by recent announcements by Gibson and/or TCL.”
The status of the brand became further clouded this week after Gibson Brands filed for Federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and indicated that it was stepping away from most aspects of consumer electronics sales and marketing to focus on its core musical instruments and pro AV equipment businesses.
Last month, China-based TCL Multimedia revealed that it had obtained brand authorization of Onkyo Corporation (“Onkyo”), to explore the smart AV market.
TCL now has “the exclusive global usage rights (except Japan) of the Onkyo trademark (subject to certain exceptions), to develop, manufacture, and sell a variety of AV products such as headphones, small speakers, and TV speakers including standalone soundbars for TVs. In addition, TCL Multimedia will apply its proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) technology to develop innovative high-end smart AV products that offer added-value to customers.”
TCL’s strategy for Onkyo is “to create exceptional visual-audio and home entertainment experiences for customers” and will be used for a first step in the company’s entry into the smart AV market segment.”
Sausto emphasized that “TCL’s agreement is with Onkyo Corp. It has zero impact on Onkyo USA, which as mentioned is a separate, private company based in the U.S.” and there are no licensing window limitations on Onkyo USA’s agreement.
At one time, Gibson Brands had acquired interest in Onkyo in addition to licensing the rights to Philips (Woox), Pioneer, Elite and other brands, as it sought to branch out from musical instruments into consumer electronics. Much of those deals were later melded into Onkyo for the U.S.
As for the other AV CE brands once involved with Gibson, Sausto said, “We cannot answer for all brands, however the brands in Onkyo USA’s portfolio, such as Onkyo, Onkyo RZ Series, Pioneer, ELITE and Integra remain as-is and unaffected by Gibson’s recent announcement.”
By Greg Tarr
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