By The Time You Have To Look for a Lawyer, It’s Probably Already Too Late

September 13, 2016

“Prevention is better than cure,” they said.

No one fancies going to the doctor – that’s why we take vitamins. That’s why we go for health check-ups. For the same reason we purchase insurance coverage: For a peace of mind that things will be right even if they go wrong.

Yet when it comes to legal, many businesses are slow to adopt the preventative approach.

Think: Why do companies hire attorneys? Nine times out of ten it’s to do everything required to make a problem go away: Your customer is not paying; you call a lawyer. Your business partners want to take the business in a different direction; you need a lawyer.

But this mindset of engaging a lawyer only when a problem surfaces is wrong.

What if you could prevent these problems by installing certain procedures and having in place agreements that would make sure everyone is aware of their rights and obligations from the outset – wouldn’t this avoid disputes and help to manage your business more effectively?

Here’s the thing:

It takes legal expertise to meet your legal needs.
However, not ALL legal needs require hiring a lawyer.  
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Before seeking out a law firm, there are definitely some precautions you can take to minimise the occurrence and impact of legal disputes:

1)  Always own any work that is produced for you.

As your business continues to grow, you will inevitably employ more manpower for your team, or outsource some work to a freelancer. This is often where business overlook the additional step of transferring Intellectual Property (IP) ownership.

In the case of Singapore, fortunately, any IP created in the course of employment or under the terms of employment belongs to you (the employer) unless there was an agreement which states otherwise (Source: IPOS).

However, if you are hiring a freelancer:

The creator of any piece of work is made its owner under copyright law. The same applies for work done by freelancers that you engage, unless you take the additional step of transferring IP ownership to you or your company.

In other words, if you use or publish work without first receiving copyright and IP ownership, you are stealing! If the freelancer decides to claim wilful infringement and sue for damages, you may be liable to fork out more in legal fees on top of what you’ve paid for the work.

2) Put everything in writing.

This is an obvious one that many businesses continue to overlook. Many entrepreneurs put documentation on the back burner so they can “focus on the business”. But you may find yourself in a sticky situation should problems arise in the meantime.

“But that’s my good mate!” you say.

Things often don’t go according to plan in business, and you can never count on a handshake deal. No matter how much you trust your business partners, you need a written agreement to fall back on in times of dispute. Disputes also often arise from allegations of what was discussed verbally, but not established in writing.

Think about it this way: Sit down with your friend/family/business partner, get your legal documentation in place, and you will never have to put your relationship the test!

Lawyers are not pessimists; they just plan ahead to give you a way out in the worst-possible scenario.

3) Don’t use templates.

As a provider of self-service legal solutions online, we can’t stress this enough. Templates will not address specific legal needs in your specific legal situation. Templates are not localised for your specific jurisdiction. Templates may address all or none of the legal issues your business really faces – and both are not ideal.

When you go to a law firm and ask for a document to be drafted – whether a Service Agreement, Consultancy Agreement, or Confidentiality Agreement (NDA) – the lawyer will first clarify if you are the provider or recipient. The provider is the party who supplies any good(s), service(s), information or makes the promise; while the recipient, as the name suggests, is on the receiving end. This is important because it affects the form in which the contract will take, and who it favours. Templates fail to distinguish this.

Distinguishing between the provider and recipient helps set the right tone for any contract.

Start drafting your Confidentiality Agreement for free

Yes, put blindly, legal agreements are merely pieces of paper. But it is what aligns ownership and responsibility from the outset, and helps to prevent disputes in the long run. They should be finalised before there is any chance of a damaging disagreement.

It is not common practice for small businesses to set aside budgets for litigation. If you eventually have no choice but to turn to a lawyer, you will very likely be put off by the traditional model of hourly or retainer fees. How many times have you made the choice to forgo a lawsuit and absorb the loss as a “cost of doing business” or “bad debt”?

So how about get your legal documents in order to prevent that from happening in the first place? By the time you have to look for a lawyer, it’s probably already too late.


Thousands of businesses use Dragon Law to meet their legal needs at a fraction of the time and cost.

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International Growth: Getting It Right

September 12, 2016

Do you run an international company with business dealings in Asia?

Whether you are looking to set up a physical office as your Asian headquarters, or merely wish to trade and invest with others in the region, you must comply with all appropriate legal and financial requirements. Not doing so can lead to serious consequences for your firm when problems ensue.

International financial laws…

International financial regulation has developed a lot since the global banking crisis rocked the world in 2008. The industry was under enormous pressure and scrutiny, especially as millions of taxpayers ended up bailing many out. The repercussions have prevailed:

European regulators announced tougher restrictions on banker bonuses, with the UK’s financial sector undergoing further ones. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) was replaced by three separate bodies to take care of financial regulation, the safety of individual finance firms and protecting consumers.

Reforms to the wider world included Basel III, which aims to improve the banking sector’s ability to absorb risk, manage risks and strengthen their transparency. While the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was passed in the USA to lower risk in various parts of its financial system. Professional financial services will ensure any business you take care of meets the current financial regulations in the region it is being conducted.

…v.s. financial regulation in Asia

Financial regulations put in action across most of the world have aimed to cut back on the excesses of the past, resulting in increased compliance spending in many companies in major financial centres. In Asia, there is a limited amount of financial regulation and enforcement, along many crossovers.

This has caused numerous headaches to a lot of Western businesses working in the Asia Pacific region. In addition to the regulations set in your home country, you must also adhere to specific ones in the local environment where your business operates.

The Asian financial markets are diverse and covered by numerous regulators, meaning any international business needs to employ its own team to ensure it meets the necessary requirements. Specialists, like Withers, offer legal help and advice for businesses expanding or already working in Asia.

Volatility of the dollar

International businesses are all affected by currency conversions and hence the rate at which they fluctuate. Firms that import and export, whether for use or for trade, will be at the mercy of such volatility.

For example, a depreciating Hong Kong dollar will it cheaper to export from Hong Kong and hence, in return, more expensive to import. This can have a big impact on your business’ finances, so it is important to be aware of the current and changing rates and currency conversions.

Legal systems

Asian legal systems have a number of differences from their Western counterparts, including when it comes to business law. As a region, the legal system from country to country can also differ widely; and one must be careful not to make sweeping assumptions. Singapore and Hong Kong are the two most popular options for Western companies to incorporate as their Asian headquarters, mostly owing to the ease of doing business, minimal language barriers, high standard of living, huge government support, and availability of good talent.


Starting a new business?

Learn more about the 5 legal fundamentals that your business must consider:


Make sure you engage the right partners and/or service providers who possess solid local expertise and can provide detailed guidance on what is required – from registering a new company, to acquiring all the correct licences so your business can operate legally. Employers in Hong Kong must follow legal legislation of the country; including providing acceptable working conditions, meeting health and safety requirements and more. Read more about the essential considerations under the Employment Law here.

Taxation is another key area of compliance not to be overlooked. Tax obligations can differ from nation to nation, with more benefits being present in certain countries that make it appealing to expand your international business there. For this reason, it may be worth investigating or seeking professional advice first.

Related reading: 5 ways outsourcing can help to grow your business

Differences in business cultures

Using professional legal and financial services can also introduce your company to the local business practices that may be a result of cultural observations. There are a number of obvious differences that exist between Western and Asian business culture, including:

  • Instructions: Westerners are often direct in giving commands, whereas Asians may be less directive.
  • Punctuality: Westerners strive to be on time, if not early. Asians commonly arrive a few minutes late and then make non-business small talk before starting.
  • Challenges: Westerners usually believe it is best to tackle challenges quickly and directly, while Asians are happier to take a slower approach while trying to avoid conflict or confrontation.
  • Relationships: Westerners are less keen to form overly personal business relationships; Asians on the other hand like to build them with the long-term in mind.

These however only scratch the tip of the iceberg. There are many more cultural differences that can only be observed through spending a reasonable amount of time working and living in a specific region; and in the case of Asia, this can differ vastly from country to country. All of these are areas in which a professional legal and financial service provider can provide value-add to.

The is a guest post submitted by Alexander Honeyman, and edited by Dragon Law.

The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Dragon Law may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Dragon Law here.

Alexander Honeyman is a Financial journalist specialising in emerging markets, business law and currency exchange. MA Journalism graduate from University of Westminster, London.

Pokémon GO, Augmented Reality… and Patents

September 6, 2016

The charm of pocket monsters

In a new twist on augmented reality, Pokémon GO is currently enjoying a worldwide frenzy of popularity. This 2016 release is the ‘real world’ realisation of ‘pocket monster’ characters that first appeared in games for the Nintendo Game Boy dating back to the 1990s.

In this latest incarnation, the game characters appear on a map simulating a player’s surroundings. When a player chances upon a new ‘pocket monster’, the character is superimposed onto the camera image recorded on one’s mobile phone. It is this mix of the real and digital world that puts the game firmly in the ‘augmented reality’ (AR) category.

The Intellectual Property (IP) behind the business

Much of the technology’s patent ownership goes to American software development company, Niantic, Inc. Niantic began life within Google, but was spun out following the formation of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. According to public records, patent ownership was transferred from Google to Niantic with effect from 6 October 2015. An article in Recode explains how Google’s need to work with other developers to accelerate its growth (Nintendo in this case) might might contributed to its decision to transfer patent ownership.

The patent for Pokémon GO focuses heavily on the location-based aspects of the technology that make the game possible. The abstract from the patent reads,

“The method includes receiving, at a computing device, communication data for a plurality of players associated with the location based-game. The method further includes filtering the communication data for each player based on one or more signals associated with the respective player.”


Related reading: IP FAQ: How much of my process or product must be developed before I can register for a patent?


How this impacts future trends

The social element
The patent technically describes two outcomes we see from the consumer perspective that have contributed to the game’s success. As the New York Times points out, many games go viral overnight that cause people to coop themselves up in their homes for days; while Pokémon GO sends them out into streets and parks. Meanwhile, the social element will attract those who are otherwise ‘naturally-disinclined’ by AR.

Innovation… begins with the consumers?
We have seen in other industries how wide acceptance and familiarity of a technology in the consumer environment can accelerate ‘heavier duty’ applications of the same technology in the industrial or professional world. Video and voice call application Skype is one such example for its success in displacing enterprise instant messaging and video communications solutions.

The consumer success of AR will therefore be welcomed by all those players who are pursuing more sophisticated implementations of the technology, as it embeds the technology within the mindset of everyday users.

The rise of augmented reality
In an in-depth study on this emerging innovation space, it was noted that the number of patents containing the term ‘AR’ were growing at a much faster rate than ‘VR’ alone. It is also apparent that a ‘second wave’ of interest in the technology has been much stronger than the first wave of interest registered in the early 2000s:

Download PatSnap’s whitepaper on virtual and augmented reality here.

It also comes as no surprise that the Entertainment category, much like Pokémon GO’s overwhelming popularity, takes the lion’s share of patenting activity. Tagging closely behind are verticals Healthcare and Automotive.

Some of the biggest AR profit margins are expected to be made from industrial and enterprise applications in these verticals. However, one thing is clear – with the rise of Pokémon GO, everyone in this space is a winner.

This article is a guest contribution by patent analytics platform, PatSnap.

For a full review of innovation trends in VR and AR markets, download their free white paper, where they explore the topic in greater detail.


Contact to better understand the benefits and insights you can derive from patent landscaping.

What do Venture Capitalists Want? Getting Under The Skin of Asia’s Most Influential VCs

September 5, 2016

Currently hovering at around a total of 51 deals totaling $255 Million, Southeast Asian investment activity has halved from its peak in the fourth quarter of 2015. This slowdown in deals is reflective of the attitude of investors. Brexit and the U.S. Presidential elections throw serious doubt about what the future economy might look like.  As a result, investors are now more cautious, becoming more selective and focused on the core fundamentals.

Eduardo Saverin

Co-Founder at Facebook. Angel Investor.
Discussion at Tech in Asia, Startup Asia Singapore (Apr, 2016)


So, what is the magic formula?

Is it a formula that checks all the right boxes? Or some sort of ‘Founder’s DNA’ as Sequoia Capital calls it?

Shailendra Singh of Sequoia Capital

Managing Director at Sequoia Capital
– Interview with Tech In Asia (Apr, 2016)


1) Walk the talk

There is still VC funding out there for your company. But what does it take for you to be funded?

Khailee Ng of 500 Startups

Managing Partner at 500 Startups
– Keynote at Tech In Asia, Startup Asia Singapore (May, 2014)


With the need for high returns, investors need to be reassured that you and your team have got what it takes to walk the talk.


As such, Golden Gate Ventures focuses on the tangibles in the first meeting:

Jeffrey Paine of Golden Gate Ventures

Managing Partner at Golden Gate Ventures. Director at The Founder Institute.
Interview with Tech In Asia (Sep, 2015)


Ideas are cheap; execution is everything,” made famous by Shark Tank investor, Chris Sacca; echoes the sentiment of many Asian investors, more so with the economic uncertainty. Beyond the intricacies within the pitch, more so than ever, VCs are looking for the brains and hands behind the plan. Laura Sachar, Founder and General Partner of StarVest Partners once said at Business Insider’s Startup 2012 conference, “A lot of people have ideas. If you can’t execute, you don’t have a company.”


Releasing your product on beta?

Be sure to pre-warn your fans and customers about possible risks associated with pre-release software, and protect yourself from the consequences of problems with your product.

Use a Pre-release Software Terms of Use document.


2) A focused leader

With the right ideas and team in place, teams need a leader to align them towards a focused direction. Much can be said about unfocused startups in their rush to do everything and be everything.

Leslie Loh of Red Dot Ventures

Managing Partner at Red Dot Ventures. Founder & CEO at Lithan.
– Ebook on Asia’s Entrepreneurs (2013)


Jeffrey Paine of Golden Gate Ventures

Managing Partner at Golden Gate Ventures. Director at The Founder Institute.
Interview with Tech In Asia (Sep, 2015)


So you have established grounds for a Term Sheet, what is stopping your beloved VC from committing? After months of courtship (due diligence, background checks, etc.), popping the question might be more about you and your team dynamics and less about your business.

Jeffrey Paine of Golden Gate Ventures

Managing Partner at Golden Gate Ventures. Director at The Founder Institute.
Interview from High Net Worth with Yong Hui Yow (Nov, 2015)


VCs want to help you maximise your potential with their own experience and network. Closing up to their help and advice is a sure fire way to make any future discussion go the way of the dodo.

Do your past failures contribute to their decision? Perhaps, to a certain extent. Voicing the opinions of several investors, Vinnie believes that any experience of the team working together is a plus point. VCs also like to see track record of experiences showing that the team can work together for the long haul. The cemetery of failed startups is littered with deaths due to frigid team dynamics.

Vinnie Lauria of Golden Gate Ventures

Managing Partner, Golden Gate Ventures.
Podcast from Analyse Asia with Bernard Leong (Jan, 2015)


3) On scaling

Tan Yinglan of Sequoia Capital

Venture Partner at Sequoia Capital. CEO at Sequoia Capital (India) Singapore.
Panel discussion at Tech In Asia, Startup Asia Singapore (Apr, 2016)


Lastly, as most investors covered here have their sights set on Asia. It will be fair to cover their thoughts on local and regional expansion.  Not straying far from points made about focus; Vinnie stressed on the importance of localising.

Vinnie Lauria of Golden Gate Ventures

Managing Partner at Golden Gate Ventures.
Podcast from Analyse Asia with Bernard Leong (Jan, 2015)


Willson Cuaca of East Ventures

Co-Founder & Managing Partner at East Ventures. CEO at Apps Foundry.
Interview with Tech In Asia (Sep, 2015)


 Fundraising? Do you know what legal documents you will need?

Find out by taking our free Legal Health Check:

In a nutshell…

  • Though VC funding is slowing down, VCs are still investing
  • Believe in yourself, your company and the mission
  • Ideas are one aplenty, but its value will only be realised through execution. Hence, create your minimum viable product before starting talks with VCs
  • There needs to be a distinct leader with a razor-sharp focus to maximise the startup’s scarce resource
  • Scale in accordance with local needs


Read more:

Download free eBook: Early Stage Funding

This article was written by Dragon Law’s Audrey Aug, and was first published on tech publication e27.

5 Ways Outsourcing Can Help to Grow Your Business

August 30, 2016

As the wise advisor would say, “Focus on your core competencies and outsource the rest.” 

Most individuals embark on the path of entrepreneurship in pursuit of the freedom to work autonomously and be their own leader. However, they soon reach a point where business growth stagnates; unless they open the door to bring in external help.

When you engage a business consultancy, they lend skilled, learned, and experienced consultants to you. You stand to benefit from the rich experience and specialist knowledge that these consultants bring to the table.

Outsourcing selected business functions is not at all uncommon in today’s relationship-driven business world. Businesses of all sizes around the world function this way and stand to benefit from outsourcing in the following ways:

1) Consultants give you an independent opinion

It is very likely that that a specialist consultant will have had related experience with companies that are similar to yours. They get to tap into their experience and offer a wider perspective on the problems at hand. Because they are embedded into the industry in which they consult, they are well-informed of the latest developments and will use and apply this knowledge to help your business. Most importantly, external consultants are unconsumed by your organisation’s day-to-day politics, culture, resistance to change, and hierarchies. As a result, outsourced consultants can provide opinions and suggestions to underlying issues in your organisation, without having to worry about potential repercussions.

Tapping on the expertise of local or regional-level consultants make even more sense for young startups that are venturing into a new territory. Often, new businesses neglect to consider the implications of certain regulatory, political, cultural sensitivities; hence it is best that you rely on the advice of an experienced consultant.

For instance, business laws in Dubai can be very different to that of your home country. In this case you should definitely rely on an experienced consultant who can advise you on the applicable governing laws, or recommend you to a reliable lawyer in Dubai.

2) Consultants can lend an extra pair of hands at the eleventh hour

Remember the last time you encountered a problem that required an urgent fix, but did not have the ability to allocate the required manpower at the last-minute? In the event where all hands in your office are tied, having an extra pair of hands from a consultant can be especially handy!

Because a consultant’s work is largely project-based, they are used to jumping in with little notice and can usually adapt very quickly. Most importantly, they can be mobilised just when you need them (not forgetting that you will only pay for what you need!).

3) Consultants have access to a wider network and can connect you to cheaper resources

Consulting companies usually amass a great network of service partners who perform services that are complementary to their own. This means that your consultant can act as a reliable middleman when helping you to procure and manage other subcontractors. Not only will this give you more time to focus on your core business, you might even be entitled to preferential rates as a result of their pre-existing relationships in the ecosystem!


Are you a Consultant? Learn:

Clauses to look out for in a Subcontracting Agreement

4) Consultants can do your ‘dirty’ work

Companies re-strategise and change directions all the time. This inevitably results in restructuring and, unfortunately, the job losses for some. We all know it’s nothing personal, yet no one fancies doing the ‘dirty’ work of breaking the news.

You may want to consider bringing on-board external vendors to help manage and execute a corporate restructure. This keeps decisions fair and unbiased. You will also want your employees, regardless if they were ‘victims’ or ‘survivors’, to appreciate the transparency. Some consultants will additionally offer outplacement and coaching services to ease the job loss transition for your employees.

5) Consultants can help you make the most out of your efforts

How often do you take a step back and take the time to review and report on your business activities?

No, we don’t just mean financial reporting; but rather, the return on investment (ROI) on measurable results v.s. time spent. Take for example if you’re in the role of Marketing and Business Development: You spend most of your time putting together events for your company – securing venue partners, sponsors, speakers, preparing collateral, garnering attendees… but do you know how much return you get from each event that you host?

What if I told you it would’ve been more effective to market your business online instead? But you wouldn’t know that, because you’ve been too buried in the daily grind to find the time to measure the effectiveness of your efforts, as well as test alternative strategies.

This is where an external consultant can come in. You can keep doing what you do to keep the business on track; but allow a consultant to analyse your processes, results, and suggest room for improvement.

Are you too busy to improve?

Image source: LinkedIn


Related reading: Essential legal documents when working with Advisors


Many companies share the common misconception that consulting services are a waste of money, or an unnecessary luxury. The truth is in fact quite the opposite: Minimal investment in consulting services can go a long way in helping your business grow, the trick however is selecting the right provider and ensure that expectations are aligned right from the outset.

To ensure you reap the most benefits out of a consulting service, be sure to set out the terms and conditions right from the beginning using a Consultancy Agreement.

Read more:

Clauses to look out for in a Consultancy Agreement

Photo credits: Shutterstock

About the Author

Rachel Stinson has always had a knack for writing, food, fashion, and places. Blogging has combined all four for her with an added bonus of enthusiastic audiences. She expertly analyses real estates and restaurants with respect to pricing and people involved, and can express her opinions in an unhesitant, engaging manner for all matters; including legal matters about law firms in Dubai like AlHanaee.

Editing by Dragon Law.