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How do I recover losses if the products I've ordered are substandard in quality when delivered, or if there is a patent infringement issue?

Posted: 2011-09-30

Full Question

I have developed a unique design for a baby footed romper (sleepwear for infants) and am looking to manufacture this clothing to sell in high-end boutiques. I'm very interested in working with a manufacturer overseas, but I have a lot of concerns about quality.

Here are my questions:

  • What happens if I order my rompers and when they get delivered they are not the same quality that I thought they would be or they are the wrong sizes, etc? Do I eat the costs or do the manufacturers usually take them back? I know you spoke of quality inspections, about how much do they cost? And will that solve my questions?
  • What happens if you order something from a manufacturer and you find out there is a patent or patent application on the item?
  • Lastly, are your seminars on the web anywhere? I missed them and I am very interested in hearing what you have to say. I have never sourced overseas. Have you sourced anywhere other than China? Do you think it is wise to use an agent? Do you have any other informational websites or advice to give a newbie? Have you ever sourced clothing?


You are wise to be thinking about intellectual property (IP) and quality control (QC) well in advance of starting production.

Let's take a look at your first question about what to do if there is a problem.

Let's take a look at your first question about what to do if there is a problem.

If you have a good contract and perhaps a future order to use as leverage, then you may have a chance to recover your losses in a court of law. But it is not easy. So the wise move is not to allow defective goods to be exported or paid for in the first place. Engage a quality inspection agent if you cannot visit the facility yourself in China. The cost is only a few hundred US dollars and I believe it will be a great step towards elevating your concern.

In the event of a conflict over a patent, you -- the importer of record -- will be the one on the hook, despite what your Chinese supplier may say. As the importer, it is your responsibility to confirm that the product you're importing is not in conflict with an existing patent or patent application. If you need help, just let me know and I will be happy to introduce you to a patent lawyer who can look up your idea to see if there is a problem. I am happy to get your pointed in the right direction as legal support is a bit outside my area of expertise at PassageMaker and the CSIC.

You can find the videos of my seminars at In this video I cover the pros and cons of dealing with agents. I have sourced tons of cut-n-sew products in China over the years, but I'm afraid I don't have a lot of experience in other sourcing destinations. You asked about where to find additional information. I would highly encourage you to sign up for the free magazine at and check out the blogs and Q&A at "ask the experts" service on that website too.


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