Intellectual property protection is an important topic. Companies with good ideas have been struggling to keep other companies from copying successful products since, well, the first good idea.
Unfortunately, if your product is available for sale it is impossible to prevent it from being purchased by someone intent on copying it. That is a fact.
Having patents and copyrights can help but what about if you are manufacturing off shore? How do you know if the factory that is manufacturing your product is copying it and selling it on the side?
You can schedule a visit to your China factory, get a visa, get on a plane, catch a cab to the factory and take a look around. Or you can work through a company with a long history and deep roots in China; a company that has people “on the ground” who regularly visit factories and routinely meet with factory owners and management – like ITI Manufacturing.
ITI Manufacturing takes the protection of intellectual property seriously. We have an attorney on retainer in China. All contracts between ITI and the factories we work with are written in Chinese. Factories know ITI has no patience with intellectual property violations.
If you are working with ITI Manufacturing you can be sure the factories involved will be interested only in doing their best to manufacture your product for you, to the specifications you require, in the timeframe you need.
For companies, even large ones, knock offs can be the downfall of a business. They can ruin a brand image, decrease sales, and lead to costly lawsuits. Chinese manufacturing, similar to other countries, can be a twisting maze of legal issues. It can take years before a lawsuit is resolved. However, there are some steps you can take to prevent this from happening, or happening as often.
The first step is to split up your vendors. If it is possible to manufacture your product in several pieces, and assemble them in another location, this is a good route to take. This way none of your suppliers will have enough information to copy your product. In particular, this is where the benefit of Chinese manufacturing comes in; as certain technological features can be assembled overseas, and other parts elsewhere. Also having employees sign contracts preventing intellectual theft can prevent the knowledge from getting out.
If that knowledge does slip out in any way, it is best to have patents, trademarks, or copyrights in place. This can be expensive but it will cut down on legal issues you may have. For smaller businesses it might be a good idea to start off by protecting your brand name first, and trademark that. This will help set you apart from the knock offs and make them easier to recognize for the public.
The last thing you need to do is create a strong brand name. If consumers relate quality with your product, they will be more inclined to go out and buy ‘the real deal’. Moreover, it helps to have quality Chinese manufacturers who will help you produce quality products with customized features. This will also help you step away from competitors and their knock offs.
One of the best things you can do is create loyal and supportive consumer base. This will ensure that you will still have a steady stream of buyers, despite manufacturing knock offs. No one can stop it completely, but these steps will minimize the effect this business can have on your company.
And one of the easiest things you can do is to contact ITI Manufacturing and let us keep an eye on things.