International Manufacturing Lawyers to protect your manufacturing molds

I love it when a blog post just lands in my lap, and one just did. It is a couple of emails from two of my law firm’s international manufacturing lawyers to two different clients, both of whom recently retained us to draft China Manufacturing Agreements. Both clients are in the process of changing their Chinese manufacturers and this time they want strong and enforceable product supply contracts with their new Chinese manufacturers.

I am doing this post to give an idea of some of what should go into a Chinese manufacturing agreement.

Since we have a fairly standard initial questionnaire we send to our clients when we being working on China manufacturing contracts, I have combined the two emails into one, further camouflaging the companies involved.

Here are the questions posed by the emails:

  • What is the name and contact information of the Chinese manufacturer?
  • What sort of products will the Chinese manufacturer be making? Do you anticipate these products will change over time? Will the volume change over time?
  • Where do you anticipate selling your products? In particular, will you be selling them in China?
  • What are you expecting regarding shipping terms?
  • Will you be using this manufacturing agreement only with this specific Chinese manufacturer, or will you be wanting to re-use it with others? Will you be wanting to use it with any companies outside China?
  • What arrangements will be made for packaging prior to shipment?
  • Are you concerned about your manufacturer going around you by selling a competing product to your customers?
  • Exactly what will you want to be  done with any defective product?
  • Do you have an existing purchase orders (POs) that you intend to use for your product orders from this manufacturer? If so, please provide us with a copy.
  • How are you anticipating pricing and other terms will be negotiated? On a purchase order basis? On an annual basis? Some other way?  If you submit a purchase order and is not accepted by the Chinese side, what happens? In other words, is the Chinese side bound for some period to make a certain amount of product at a certain price, or is the Chinese side only obligated to make product for you after it accepts your purchase order?
  • How many of the deal terms have been negotiated at this point? From the documents you have sent us, it appears only very basic terms have been negotiated: 40% down, 60% before delivery/shipping, plus certain quantity discounts. These are not great terms from your standpoint, but fairly typical for deals with manufacturers in Southern China (i.e., Shenzhen, Guangdong, etc.).
  • What sort of arrangements have you made for inspection and quality control, and what sort of warranty terms have you negotiated? This question is particularly important in that many manufacturers in the south of China insist on a no-warranty provision.
  • What are your main concerns in this deal? I ask this both so we can focus on the provisions that matter to you, and because it can help determine the choice of law and the choice of venue. From what I know so far, your main concerns seem to be twofold: (1) getting a high quality product and (2) protecting your intellectual property (i.e., ensuring that the Chinese manufacturer does not sell your product behind your back and/or steal your tooling).
  • What exactly is the tooling for this product? Does the Chinese manufacturer already have all of the tooling in question? If so, who paid for it?
  • Has the Chinese manufacturer already signed any sort of Letter of Intent (LOI)/Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with you, even if only in English?
  • Are there any unresolved issues involving your previous manufacturer ? For instance: have you gotten all off the tooling back from the previous factory? Are there any outstanding invoices or payments due?

After we get answers to the above questions, we will write you again with a whole slew of follow-up questions.

For more on what it takes to create and maintain a good buyer-supplier relationship check out the following:

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Photo of Dan Harris Dan Harris

Dan is a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

He primarily represents companies doing business in emerging market countries, having spent years building and maintaining a global, professional network. 

Dan is a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

He primarily represents companies doing business in emerging market countries, having spent years building and maintaining a global, professional network.  His work has been as varied as securing the release of two improperly held helicopters in Papua New Guinea, setting up a legal framework to move slag from Canada to Poland’s interior, overseeing hundreds of litigation and arbitration matters in Korea, helping someone avoid terrorism charges in Japan, and seizing fish product in China to collect on a debt.

He was named as one of only three Washington State Amazing Lawyers in International Law, is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (its highest rating), is rated 10.0 by AVVO.com (also its highest rating), and is a recognized SuperLawyer.

Dan is a frequent writer and public speaker on doing business in Asia and constantly travels between the United States and Asia. He most commonly speaks on China law issues and is the lead writer of the award winning China Law Blog. Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Business Week, The National Law Journal, The Washington Post, The ABA Journal, The Economist, Newsweek, NPR, The New York Times and Inside Counsel have all interviewed Dan regarding various aspects of his international law practice.

Dan is licensed in Washington, Illinois, and Alaska.

In tandem with the international law team at his firm, Dan focuses on setting up/registering companies overseas (via WFOEs, Rep Offices or Joint Ventures), drafting international contracts (NDAs, OEM Agreements, licensing, distribution, etc.), protecting IP (trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and patents), and overseeing M&A transactions.