5 dangerous intellectual property mistakes that might kill your startup

This post by Chua Sher Hann is the first-ever guest-post on The Malaysian Lawyer.

image - 5 dangerous intellectual property mistakes that might kill your startup

The last few years saw a proliferation of startups in Malaysia. You can eat your Dah Makan lunchbox, then GrabCar to your KFit class decked in your Ash Be Nimble active wear. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur or the founder of a fresh startup, you must be extremely careful when navigating the intellectual property minefield, and not overlook the importance of securing the intellectual property rights of your business.

Unless you’re someone like Jeffri Cheong of Kaodim (who was an intellectual property lawyer prior to co-founding the services platform which recently raised USD 4 million in its Series A round) and already have a solid understanding and knowledge of intellectual property, please read on.

Here are five common intellectual property mistakes that startup founders make.

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Law for startups — the complete series

The Law for Startups series based on the content of my workshop at the Malaysian Global and Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) is now complete.

It’s a basic introduction to legalities for startup founders, which also applies to small business owners.

My “Law For Startups” workshop at MA2015.

You can access the slides here.

This is the full list of posts on The Malaysian Lawyer:

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Law for startups — look out for common contractual landmines

This post is the final post in a series based on my Law for Startups workshop at MaGIC in September 2015. It’s a basic introduction to legalities for startup founders. You can access the slides here.

Read the earlier posts for context:

  1. Law for startups in Malaysia — building on the best foundations.
  2. The legal landscape in Malaysia for startups — a hybrid of traditional corporate practices and Silicon Valley models.
  3. Choosing the right business vehicle for your startup or small business in Malaysia.
  4. When should a startup hire a lawyer?
  5. Oversights which could destroy your startup or small business.
  6. The dangers of using “standard” or template legal documents.
  7. How startups can strive for clarity in contracts.

Having discussed in the above posts some principles which startups and small businesses should bear in mind when dealing with legal documentation, this post will address some of the more common contractual landmines — practical tips on some specific terms and conditions to look out for.

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How startups can strive for clarity in contracts

This post is a part of a series based on my Law for Startups workshop at MaGIC in September 2015. It’s a basic introduction to legalities for startup founders. You can access the slides here.

Read the earlier posts for context:

  1. Law for startups in Malaysia — building on the best foundations.
  2. The legal landscape in Malaysia for startups — a hybrid of traditional corporate practices and Silicon Valley models.
  3. Choosing the right business vehicle for your startup or small business in Malaysia.
  4. When should a startup hire a lawyer?
  5. Oversights which could destroy your startup or small business.
  6. The dangers of using “standard” or template legal documents.

A couple of posts ago, I explained the importance of bringing all the issues to the surface when reviewing contracts. This post will explain how to strive for clarity in contracts.

Turn to clear image.
Turn to clear vision.

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The dangers of using “standard” or template legal documents

This post is a part of a series based on my Law for Startups workshop at MaGIC in September 2015. It’s a basic introduction to legalities for startup founders. You can access the slides here.

Read the earlier posts for context:

  1. Law for startups in Malaysia — building on the best foundations.
  2. The legal landscape in Malaysia for startups — a hybrid of traditional corporate practices and Silicon Valley models.
  3. Choosing the right business vehicle for your startup or small business in Malaysia.
  4. When should a startup hire a lawyer?
  5. Oversights which could destroy your startup or small business.

Template and automated legal documents are increasing in popularity.

For years there have been many websites offering standard contracts for download. Most of these have a US/European law focus, but the past couple of years have seen some similar services launched in Asia.

Some of these websites offer a very comprehensive collection of legal documents which address the needs of startups and small businesses in particular — everything from NDAs to equity investment agreements are available for download, usually with a fee.

Say no to cookie-cutter contracts.
Say no to cookie-cutter contracts.

My cover slide for this part of the workshop reads: “Be very very very very careful when using standard contracts” — I’m not sure whether I should have added a few more ‘very’s to statement.

Business owners should be extremely cautious when using these legal documents.

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