Many companies, including U.S. companies, find manufacturing abroad attractive because of its affordable costs, capacity, and distribution networks. Typically discussions or negotiations with a foreign manufacturer will concern the type of product to be produced, which often involves providing the manufacturer with sufficient detail to enable the manufacturer to provide a proposal. These seemingly harmless discussions regarding necessary manufacturing details may place a company's intellectual property rights at risk. For example, a company may be unable to obtain or enforce a future patent for their product. Therefore, companies should proceed with caution when disclosing information to a foreign manufacturer—even a trusted manufacturer—to bring a new product to market or they could risk losing their intellectual property rights.
Based on our experience protecting clients' intellectual property rights in the U.S. and worldwide, we recommend taking certain steps before, during, and after negotiations with a foreign manufacturer. The attorneys of Dickinson Wright have developed an international patent filing strategy by which we can expediently obtain patent protection for our clients and prevent against the potential risks of manufacturing abroad.
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