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How do I find a reliable manufacturer to build my product without risking they steal my IP?

How do I find a reliable manufacturer to build my product without risking they steal my IP?

By Omar Najjar

No particular order. Consider doing a few of these at the same time to decrease your risk of your product design being stolen.

  1. If in China, get a Chinese patent specifically. In China, they don’t really do court system stuff, the gov will just tell the manufacturer to shut down that day or ELSE 💀.   They are pretty reliable with it.
    If international get a PCT (Patent Treaty Cooperation). This is legally enforceable around the world in 160+ countries and only costs $5-8k, lasts 2 years.
  2. Get a Chinese minister or official to RED stamp your contract. This would make them think thrice before taking advantage of you. As in china, they don’t really do court system stuff, the gov will just tell the manufacturer to shut down that day or ELSE 💀.
  3. Bring em in as business partners, where they can have their local market for e.g the Chinese market and you have the rest of the world. As long as you don’t undercut each other on pricing. You can contract protect that with an enforceable legal stamp.
  4. is a great platform for finding actually legit manufacturers if you have no idea where to look and you’re international.
  5. Pro tip: DON’T use Alibaba, contrary to popular belief they have mostly resellers on there so you’ll never know if you’re dealing with an actual manufacturer. As some resellers will even take you on a tour and pretend its their factory, manufacturers will let them because its increased business for them and they are hungry.
  6. If you’re looking elsewhere in the world, search up local platforms like for the USA etc and just email a bunch of manufacturers a brief, you have to include your design usually so they can quote you accurately. Join local facebook groups in hardware and try to get reviews of those manufacturers from people who’ve used them. Be Mindful: they’d usually want to know the contract size and some won’t touch you for less than a certain contract value. So if you only plan a low product cost for e.g $20 for a fancy shoe and want to do a run of 200 quantity. That’s only $4,000. Many in Europe, USA, Australia won’t get up for that because higher labor costs. China/South East Asia you’d have better luck as long as you tell them your there longer term. They value business relationships and more business over time.
  7. Consult an expert doing it for 20-30 years, you can ask around on social media namely facebook groups. Innovation Drive (us :) have a wealth of experience in manufacturing frugally and reliably for inventors/founders with combined 100 years of combined experienced doing this.
  8. Pay them decently. Sometimes to win your business, a manufacturer might under quote you. Get at least 3-5 quotes to figure out what your product’s material and manufacturing cost would be. The mean or average would be about right. If you go with the cheapest, try to figure out how they can be that cheap.What you DON’T want is a manufacturer doing a loss leader. Where they make a loss on your initial business and then cut corners on your product. This is pertinent if quality is important in the product you’re selling and it almost always it lol.
  9. Change the question: Instead of 1 reliable manufacturer, why not multiple and not needing to trust them fully? This is called Distributed Manufacturing; split the product up into 3 different sections with 3 different manufacturers that don’t know each other. They don’t even have to know what the product does or how it works. You need to be or your designer needs to be good at communication here and more importantly Design To Manufacturing (DFM). The reason is because you need to be able to understand how everything from the different factories can come together and be assembled. You need to forsee how it will be assembled together. This is best to do way in advance when FIRST starting your design. Get someone good at DFM. Can’t recommend this enough. Innovation Drive have experts on our team wildly skilled at this bringing everything from consumer products like a bottle that can hold 2 liquids (like tea and coca cola) all the way to medical devices manufactured.

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