International manufacturingOne of my law firm’s international manufacturing lawyers got an email the other day from an American company that just learned it is in trouble here in the United States (yes, I am being deliberately vague here) for having imported and sold a whole slew of electronics products improperly listed as UL certified. The US company designs the products and sells them under its own brand name. They wanted our help in finding a new manufacturer that would actually secure UL approval for their products, and not use bogus certificates falsely claiming approval.

Our suggestion was they start working directly with UL to secure any necessary approvals, as that would greatly increase the chances of any approval (or even disapproval) being legitimate. The American company initially mildly complained about having to pay for the UL approval themselves, but quieted rather quickly when I pointed out the following two things:

1.  It had probably never had to pay for any UL testing with its previous manufacturer or only paid a fraction of the real cost. I am guessing the Chinese manufacturer got the project by underbidding based on its plan to forge UL certification.

2.  If the Chinese manufacturer does pay for UL testing and certification it will both need to charge more for the product (which in turn means its foreign product buyers end up indirectly paying for the UL certification in any event) and it will — unless there is a clear agreement to the contrary — be the one that holds the UL certification, making it more difficult/expensive for the American company to switch to another manufacturer at some future point.

What do you think?

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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.