Meet The Authors

Mark Goh

Paerin Choa


Meet The Authors

Mark Goh

Paerin Choa


Why You Need An Intellectual Property Lawyer

Mark Goh & Paerin Choa | 8 min read | September 2020

We are moving from the industrial age to the intellectual age. Living in the intellectual age, we see the rise of the creative industries. Theatre, visual arts, cinema, TV, radio, music, publishing, computer games, new media, architecture, design, fashion, advertising, applied arts and innovations are all the more identifiable components in the creative industries.

We have seen how a good story can be given a new lease of life when it is adapted to diferent mediums. For example, a story starts its journey in publication, it may then get adapted to stage, screen or computer games. Design, fashion and innovation will lead to new products and new trends.

The creative industries are less tied to traditional assets like land, capital and intensive labour. Instead what you need is creativity, originality and ideas.

However ideas alone do not translate to business success. In my years of practice, I have noticed that many people share a common misconception that their ideas can be protected. Ideas are concepts that exist in the mind. As long as it exists only in the mind, an idea cannot be protected. An idea has to be expressed in a tangible form for an intellectual property (“IP”) to be created.

Although the creation of Intellectual Property Rights (“IPR”) does not protect your ideas totally, it gives you protection to some extent. The 4 main types of IPR are copyright, trademark, patent and confidential information.

Types Of Intellectual Property Rights

1. Copyright
Copyright in itself does not protect the idea but it protects the expression of the idea. Copyright protects the expression of the idea in tangible form like in writing, a recording, drawing or a computer program.

2. Trademark
These are used to protect your brand and to distinguish the products and services that you provide from your competitors. Trademarks also serve to protect the goodwill that your business have generated from the resources that are invested.

3. Patent
It is used by an inventor to claim ownership of an invention. The invention must be novel and cannot be obvious to industry peers.

4. Confidential Information
It is created by confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements. This IP does not protect the idea but gives you a cause of action against someone who steals your ideas after signing the agreement.

Creating the IP is only the first step. An IP in itself has little value. They only attain value by being successfully exploited. Some common forms of commercial exploitation are turning IPs into commercial products, licensing or an outright sale. When a business successfully exploits its portfolio of IPs, the business can generate income, create employment and hopefully, change the way we live and work. With the proper exploitation of IPs, we can witness how creativity breathes new life into production, commerce and entertainment.

Protect your business interests with these approaches
The Ministry of Manpower has clear rules against work pass holders and foreign domestic workers working for anyone except their employers at all times, while the Public Service Division has stated that “civil servants need to declare additional trade or work that draws income to ensure that there is no conflict of interest”.

When it comes to employees who are not work pass holders in a small company, however, the regulations are not as straightforward. Moonlighting is disapproved of generally under common law. Under the law, an employee owes a duty of fidelity and integrity to their employer. As such, “moonlighting”, which usually means being engaged in another job without the prior consent of the employer, is a breach of the employment contract.

If discovered, such a breach may allow an employer to elect whether to terminate the contract and/or make a claim against an employee for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence from the breach.

In addition to “moonlighting”, there is another concept called “non-compete”. It specifically addresses a situation where an employee obtains a freelance job and alternative employment from a competitor of the employer. Employees should be warned that even if there are no express clauses against “moonlighting” or “non-compete”, these obligations are imputed into the contracts.

However, these obligations are not imputed after the contract expires or is terminated. If you wish to prevent your employees from working for a competitor after the existing contract of employment has ended, you will need a lawyer to assist you in drafting a binding non-compete clause which the Courts will accept as fair and reasonable.

Protect Your Company’s Intellectual Property Assets
Strengthen the existing non-compete agreements with your employees by protecting your company’s intellectual property.

Do the necessary – register the trademark, copyright and/or patent and have the correct assignments in place to make sure that any processes, systems, inventions etc developed by the employees during business hours and using company resources belonging to your company, not to the employee who developed them on behalf of your company.

Are NFT's Value As Good As Serialised Toilet Paper - A Legal Perspective

Mark Goh | 3 min read | July 2017

What is a NFT? Well, it is not a “thing”, as it is intangible. It means “Non-Fungible Token“. In order to fully understand what that really means, I will take an example of shares in a company. In law, shares are known as “fungible documented intangible property”- it is a mouthful!

Fungible means that the individual shares are not unique in themselves and you either acquire or own them in terms of a quantity or percentage; ie 200 shares or 20% of the share capital.

The paper which contains and expresses that percentage or number of shares is intrinsical worthless as it does not possess the qualities of “property” as recognised in law. Hence, the paper only serves to “document” the intangible property. In this case, the “intangible property” are all the rights and benefits which come to you as the owner of the shares; for example, the right to vote, the right to dividends etc.

If however, the paper is serialised with a unique number then it maybe argued that the particular serialised share is a “non-fungible documented intangible property”. In which, case one may acquire or own that particular share that bears that unique serial number. The question, therefore, is whether putting a serial number to that paper, gives it rights to vote, the rights to dividends etc.? The answer is no. But, it changes the value of the paper as it can now be owned separately to the exclusion of others. As to what exactly is that value is questionable.

NFTs attached to digital art are akin to a “non-fungible documented intangible property”. The underlying digital art is the “intangible property” because the author or owner has copyrights over the art. But the serialised token is another thing altogether.

If the author or owner of the copyrighted art allows it to be copied indiscriminately and there is effectively no rights control over the copyright, then in real terms that art is pretty worthless. The application of an NFT, albeit unique, does not improve its value. A A NFT is strictly not a digital rights management device as it can only identify the author/owner of the copyrighted material. So why is it then that people will pay millions for certain NFTs? My guess is bragging rights. This is not unique as I have known playing cards to exchange for lots of money, especially by collectors of those playing cards (eg rare pokemon cards).

This brings me back to the question of putting a serial number on sheets of toilet paper. I wonder, how much those will fetch?

These articles are for information purposes only and should not be treated as legal advice.

We are here to help.
to consult your next steps


You May Be Interested In These Articles


Intellectual property law refers to the legal framework that protects creations of the mind, such as inventions, artistic works, designs, symbols, and names. It encompasses various types of legal rights, including copyright, trademark, patent, and confidential information, which grant creators and innovators exclusive rights over their intellectual creations.

Intellectual property rights are the legal rights granted to individuals or organizations to protect their intellectual creations or inventions. These rights enable the creators to control and benefit from their works, inventions, or brand identities. Intellectual property rights include copyright protection for literary, artistic, and creative works, trademarks for branding and distinguishing products or services, patents for inventions, and confidential information protection.

Intellectual property rights are crucial for fostering innovation, creativity, and economic growth. They incentivize individuals and businesses to invest time, effort, and resources into developing new ideas, products, or services, knowing that they will have exclusive rights and the opportunity to profit from their creations. Intellectual property rights also promote fair competition and protect the interests of creators, inventors, and brand owners from unauthorized use or infringement.

To protect your intellectual property, it is essential to understand the relevant laws and take appropriate legal measures. Some common methods of protection include:

  • Copyright: Ensure your creative works are original and consider registering them for copyright protection.
  • Trademark: Register your brand name, logo, or slogan as a trademark to establish its exclusive rights and prevent others from using similar marks.
  • Patent: File a patent application for your invention to secure exclusive rights and prevent others from making, using, or selling your invention without permission.
  • Confidential Information: Use non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to safeguard confidential business information or trade secrets.



If you believe someone has infringed your intellectual property rights, it is crucial to take appropriate action to protect your rights. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Gather evidence: Document any evidence of the infringement, such as copies of the infringing material, dates, and witnesses.
  • Cease and desist letter: Send a formal cease and desist letter to the infringing party, demanding that they stop the infringing activities and potentially seek compensation or other remedies.
  • Mediation or negotiation: Consider engaging in mediation or negotiation to resolve the dispute amicably and avoid costly litigation.
  • Legal action: If necessary, consult with an intellectual property lawyer to assess the merits of your case and pursue legal action through litigation to enforce your rights and seek damages or injunctions against the infringer.