JOLED files for bankruptcy, creating doubts over TCL's OLED plans

Mike Wheatley

JOLED, the joint venture formed by the merger of Sony and Panasonic’s OLED display business units, has filed for bankruptcy protection after falling victim to financial woes.


The company was founded in 2015, with Sony and Panasonic joined by Japan Display and a Japanese government-backed investment fund. At the time, it said its goal was to develop and mass produce OLED display panels for small and medium-sized devices, which was a segment of the industry that was largely ignored by LG Display and Samsung Display at the time.

JOLED later expanded its scope, saying in 2020 that it was working with China’s TCL on inkjet printed OLED TV panels. It also became LG Electronics' main partner for its OLED Pro computer monitors, sold under that company’s UltraFine OLED monitor brand. However, LG Electronics has since pivoted to OLED panels built by LG Display in its most recent new OLED gaming monitors.

JOLED also supplies OLED panels to professional OLED monitors sold by Asus, Eizo and other brands.

The company’s collaboration with TCL on TV-sized OLED panels has been in the works for several years already, but it has yet to deliver anything more than a few prototypes. It’s unclear what will happen with that project going forwards, but Nikkei, which first reported the news of its bankruptcy, said the professional OLED monitors are expected to be discontinued. JOLED and TCL had previously stated that they hoped to start mass producing large-sized OLED panels for TVs in late 2022 or early 2023, but that never happened.

Nikkei said Japan Display will acquire JOLED’s technology development team, which counts around 100 employees, as well as its related intellectual property. However, JOLED will close its two factories in Japan and lay off around 280 staff from those facilities.

Prior to filing for bankruptcy, JOLED had amassed debts of around 33.7 billion yen, or $257 million.

It’s not clear what went wrong for JOLED, but the company never managed to present a serious threat to LG Display’s and Samsung Display’s dominance of the OLED display market. With those rivals now both mass producing mid-sized OLED panels for monitors, both were muscling in on JOLED’s only real niche, and that likely contributed to its financial woes.