Certain misconceptions exist on whether intellectual property rights can be protected when manufacturing products in China. China is a member state of WIPO (World Intellectual Properties Organisation) together with other 188 countries. China has made improvements in both its legal systems and the concept of respect plus protection of intellectual properties has gained much wider recognition in China. If concerns exist regarding the protection of intellectual properties in China then preventative steps (e.g. patent application) should be taken as per other countries. Design patents can be applied for in China but note that China does not allow computer programs to be patented.
Patent application in China follows similar rules to the WIPO. An obvious requirement is that patents filed in China must be in Chinese. TriVista Engineering can help in this area as we have strong knowledge in translating technical documents between English and Chinese.
The following links provide further details on applying for patents in China:
The majority of manufacturers in China follow ISO 9001 quality assurances systems. However, the implementations of these systems varies a great deal and therefore relying only on the manufacturer’s own internal quality controls is not always sufficient.
Many inspection companies in China exist that can perform independent inspections for UK companies. In using these inspection company, a clear guide has to be provided on what is and what is not acceptable and these companies then tend to be on the stricter side.
TriVista have found that the best way to achieve good quality is to have the manufacturer understand that achieving a high quality standard is the best way to market your products and therefore also in their best interests.
Various methods exist to ship goods to and from China. Shipping from the major ports is frequent but ships take about four weeks from China to a UK port. It is advisable to allow extra time before the Christmas season when shipping is busy and also the winter seasons when adverse weather can be a factor. All major express logistic delivery services such as using DHL, TNT, FedEx operate in China. TriVista can assist with logistics and shipping of your product to your premises.
China has its own industrial standards (starting with letters GB) and these are typically compatible with ISO standards. Most Chinese manufacturers are happy and capable of working to western standards if specified in the product drawings.
If products made in China need to be CE certified for sale in Europe then care should be taken to ensure sourced components used in the product are already CE certified as it makes the certification process easier. Agents exist in China to help companies with gaining CE certification. TriVista recommends working with CE agents that have good reputation.
UKTI (UK Trade and Investment), CBBC (China-British Business Council) have offices in several Chinese cities to support new UK business to do business in China. See the following links:
UKTI and CBBC provide research in Chinese industry sectors and are familiar with general industrial policies. If you are seeking support on more practical issues, companies such as TriVista can provide help based on our experience gained on many commercial manufacturing projects.
It will depend on the project. Each manufacturing requirement has to be assessed on a case by case basis to ascertain whether it is beneficial to outsource manufacturing to China.
Suitable manufactured products that will benefit generally involve:
- Large manufacturing quantities.
- A high labour content.
- Sourcing multiple components to finish the assembling of a final product.
Manufactured products where outsourcing has no or very little benefit are:
- Small manufacturing quantities as the additional costs of shipping and import taxes are shared by a small number of products reducing the gain from lower production costs.
- Prototyping products in early stages of the development requires a quick feedback, adjustments, manufacturing iterations and face to face meetings. The long distance makes this manufacture outsourcing a disadvantage.
- Large physical volume, low cost products as shipping costs can reduce or eliminate lower cost manufacture gains.
Hopefully manufacturing projects goes well but any problem can have a dispute. Chinese manufacturers are usually very reasonable in resolving quality and commercial issues.
A detailed written agreement always help to clarify the position when a dispute arises. Chinese manufacturing partners are not well known for their detailed paper work. Therefore, it is good practise for the UK side to define a detailed description of the requirements. It is important to have a jurisdiction clause in your contract so that it is clear where any dispute is to be settled.
The best way of solving a dispute is to avoid it. Working with a good manufacturing partner saves time and effort in achieving your goals. TriVista has worked with both good manufacturers and also experienced poor manufacturers. We now have an established network of proven manufacturers and we can support you with your manufacturing needs.
TriVista Engineering Limited has many years’ experience in outsourcing manufacturing in China. We have a strong engineering background and able to communicate fluently in both languages. Our approaches in outsourcing support are flexible and we aim to bring tangible benefits to our clients.
If you think that outsourcing a manufacture project will help your business to lower manufacture costs and improve competitiveness, we will be glad to help. Contact us now to find out how we can assist with your next manufacturing project.