All About Patents and Trademarks (and Avoiding Infringement When Importing from China)

Counterfeit soccer jerseys at Yashow (Counterfeit) Market in Beijing

When China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, there were hopes that its title of the counterfeit capital of the world would be no more. However, if you have ever visited Nanjing Lu in Shanghai and purchased three “Rolex” watches for  under $20, you know counterfeit products are still a big problem in China.

In the West, respect for intellectual property like trademarks and patents is well engrained in our culture. Most of us would never think about taking  some blue M&Ms and selling them as Viagra for $20 a bottle. In China, this would be seen as a good business opportunity!

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All About Patents and Trademarks (and Avoiding Infringement When Importing from China)

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Five Five Risks When Importing from China

container ship sinking

Many new importers only consider the risk of a potential Supplier taking their money and never shipping their products as the biggest (and/or only) risk they can face. In reality, the likelihood of this happening is nearly negligible with even basic preperation.

There are, however,  a number of risks you’ll be susceptible to when importing from China that often importers fail to consider.

Your Shipment Gets Lost/Damaged in Transit

Whenever you have anything shipped, be it domestic or international, by sea or by road, there’s a chance of things getting lost and/or damaged. You can, and should, purchase insurance to cover you in such events, but many importers do not, either as a calculated gamble or because they are unaware their shipment is not insured (know your incoterms!)

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Five Five Risks When Importing from China

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Consumer Safety Regulations, Labeling, and Other Requirements

Alibaba import certifications

One thing you must keep in mind at all times when evaluating what product(s) to import is consumer safety regulations and other agency requirements. The U.S., for example, has a number of agencies (including the FDA, EPA, DOT, CPSC, FTC, etc.) regulating everything from food, drugs, weapons, vehicles, and more. Almost all countries have similar agencies. Not all products face strict regulation, mainly those that pose little risk of harm to the user. And others are extremely heavily regulated. Some of the most heavily regulated products include:

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Consumer Safety Regulations, Labeling, and Other Requirements

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Considerations for Finding a Freight Forwarder

Most major cities have dozens of freight forwarding companies.

I hear a lot of new importers asking how they can find a good Freight Forwarder. Before we address the question of how to find a freight forwarder,  the question first must be asked, what exactly is a freight forwarder?

A freight forwarder helps to arrange for your freight to be forwarded from your supplier to you.  They basic functions they perform are:

  • Negotiate freight rates with the shipping line (i.e. “the boat”) and book space
  • They help to arrange your shipment via trucking companies, freighters, railways, and more.
  • They normally have a warehouse in their local city (and potentially other cities) to store your goods either for a short period of time or extended period of time.
  • Prepare Bills of Lading and other documents

In the world of UPS that many of us are accustomed to, UPS owns the planes and trucks that they are using to transport their goods. In the rest of the shipping world, it for the most part, does not work like this. The person who owns the freighter does not arrange with the end-customer to arrange the freight. Instead they use very brokers and freight forwarders to fill their ships with containers (in fact the owners of the freighters actually normally rent their boats to other companies, but that’s another topic). You can view a typical freight forwarder job description here.

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Considerations for Finding a Freight Forwarder

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Dealing with Import Requirements for a Product

Alibaba import certifications

Hi Dave –

Very impressed with your book and website. What a great resource – thanks!

For some time I’ve been thinking of importing Chinese clothes for sale in the UK – however the one thing that concerns me ( and I don’t seem able to find any information about it) is the requirement for garments to meet British Safety standards – especially in regard to children’s clothes and inflammability.  There’s plenty of information as to what the standards are in the UK – but would I need to get all garments individually tested here before putting them on sale and what would my liability be as an importer?

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Dealing with Import Requirements for a Product

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Reader Question: Importing Non-Paid Commercial Samples

U.S. Customs Declaration Form

Hi Dave,

I have an unusual question (for me at least).

A supplier has sent me two boxes of samples. They shipped it by air. Today (after 5:00) I was provided a AWB. The form was very hard to understand but I did my best. In the end I was able to contact the Cargo warehouse and they looked up something for me and said I need to get it cleared through customs. So, the question of the day is: How do I do my customs things without an invoice?

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Reader Question: Importing Non-Paid Commercial Samples

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How to Clear Customs when Importing into the U.S.A., Canada, and Other Countries

Port of Entry, Canada

One of the biggest challenges for importers is clearing customs for their products once they arrive into their home country. This guide will give a solid overview of how to clear customs into most countries, using Canada (my home country) as a point of reference. The exact paperwork varies vastly depending on which country you are importing into, but the overall procedure tends to be similar for most countries.

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How to Clear Customs when Importing into the U.S.A., Canada, and Other Countries

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Choosing the Right Supplier for You

Are you comfortable working directly with a factory?

When you look for a Supplier in China, you should also be looking to build a long term relationship with them. If you build a long term relationship, you’re less likely to have problems, and more importantly, your Supplier will be more willing to find a solution to any problems. Too many new importers look only at price along with overstated promises  and ignore all of the other details of a Supplier that can’t necessarily be found in a few emails back and forth.

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Choosing the Right Supplier for You

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Interview with Renaud Anjoran from QualityInspection.org

Renaud Anjoran from QualityInspection.org and Sofeast.com

Renaud Anjoran from QualityInspection.org and Sofeast.com

One of the first blogs I started following regarding importing from China was Renaud Anjoran’s blog at QualityInspection.org. His blog is a treasure trove of information, so you’ll do yourself a favor by spending some time digging through the archives there (particularly checkout the Importers Best Practices here).

Renaud also runs Sofeast which is a quality assurance agency based in Mainland China. If you have never used a quality inspection agency, you’ll likely be surprised how affordable arranging an inspection can be. More importantly, it’s an easy and inexpensive way to help ensure that you receive high quality products and to help you sleep better at night. Renaud can be contacted through the Sofeast Website.

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Interview with Renaud Anjoran from QualityInspection.org

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8 Secrets to Picking the Perfect Product to Wholesale from China

A visit to a trade show such as the Canton Fair confirms nearly any product you can imagine can be sourced in China- but what's the best product for you?

One of the hardest things for entrepreneur’s looking to start their import business is choosing the right product to import. My focus on this site is on products that can be purchased off-the-shelf from China (i.e. wholesaled), not invented, so this article will help you to choose one of these products.

China is the factory of the world and every product you can imagine can be sourced in China. The key is to find the right product that can be profitable for you.

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8 Secrets to Picking the Perfect Product to Wholesale from China

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