We are a very small, bootstrapped startup who manufactures and retails a warm food transportation tote. The tote comes with "warmers" which function as it sounds. We are seeking an overseas manufacturing partner for the "warmers" - which are somewhat similar to hand warmers - and currently have two options. Let me also preface this by saying that we have just emerged from several months of R&D that were spent developing a custom, patent-able formulation for the warmers.
Option A, is a large, well established factory. They cannot produce the warmers to our exact specification, but can make them similarly. I believe this would put them beyond the scope of our intended patent. They are also priced on the high side. The function is close to ours, but ours is still quite superior. The advantage here, as I see it, is that because they are a well established vendor, if something should go wrong, we would have a path to seek recourse.
Option B, is a small, somewhat scrappy factory. They will produce whatever we want, however we ask. They are also much cheaper. And this is who has produced several rounds of samples for us. The risk here is that, if something goes wrong, I don't believe we would have any recourse as they would claim "we just did what you told us to do". The advantage is, of course, price, and also that they would produce the formulation as we specify.
Because we are such a small, under-funded start-up we cannot afford to make expensive mistakes. Would you go for safety, even if it's outside of the patent we intend to file, or go for lower cost and patent-ability?
What would you do?
*Edited to add:
There's also a degree of a trust and logistics issue. While the smaller factory has made samples for us, they have also lied and claimed to have ordered the ingredients from our specified sources when they didn't. This is both a QC & functional issue, as we need a high purity grade of materials.
And so, now, I order all of the raw materials myself in the US & have delivery overseas at the factory.
The larger factory seems to have better sourcing in place, and a large R&D team on site who understands this, and I do not need to be involved in raw material procurement.