Hi. I’ve been working on a toy design for almost 4 months. I want a Chinese supplier to manufacture my toys in order to import them from China to Canada. However, after finding a Chinese supplier and waiting to sign a contract, they suddenly refused to continue because I refused to provide a copyright license. I am extremely disappointed. I would like to know if suppliers have any responsibility with regards to a known design trademark and copyright. For example, do I need to provide a copyright license to a Chinese supplier if I want to place an order for 3000 plush toy, ‘Angry Birds’ and import them to US or Canada? I look forward to hearing from you.
I understand your disappointment, but the good news is, is that thanks to your supplier, you may have avoided a much bigger problem.
Actually, your supplier would be doing you a disservice if they went ahead and made the products and infringed on ‘Angry Bird’s’ copyright licensing. Had they been unethical and failed to respect IP, you and the supplier would both be in danger. For example, when products are exported out of China, the customs’ bureau will do random inspections. If your order is inspected, they could ask for a certificate from Angry Birds, that you and the factory have the rights to manufacture and export. If you don’t have that piece of paper, your goods will be impounded, fine levied and you and the supplier put on a black list. If by chance your illegal product made it out of China, the same drama could happen when the goods are imported into the USA or Canada.
China is not well known for its IP protection. During the past few years the Chinese government has become more serious about IP and exporters are finally starting to consider the risk of violating domestic and international IP. Angry Birds is a well-known global brand, so the risk of you and the supplier getting caught are that much higher.
BTW, have you contacted Angry Birds? Perhaps their licensing is not as expensive as you may think.
Let me know how things work out for you.
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Question answered by Mike Bellamy, host of “Ask the Experts” at the China Sourcing Information Center.
Mike Bellamy is an Advisory Board Member & Featured Blogger at the not-for-profit China Sourcing Information Center (www.ChinaSourcingInfo.org). He is also the author of, “The Essential Reference Guide to China Sourcing” (chinasourcinginfo.org/book) and founder of PassageMaker Sourcing Solutions (www.PSSchina.com )