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Welcome to the Workspace blog which includes a great range of advice and guides for finding office space throughout London. We at Workspace are one of London's leading providers of commercial properties and have one of the largest property portfolio's available in London, we own over 100 estates, comprising over 5.77 million square feet of business space and provide accommodation for more than 4,000 small businesses.

We specialise in providing commercial property to small & medium sized enterprises (SME's) and offer a wide range of property types including office space, serviced offices, industrial units and workshop spaces, all available on flexible and affordable leases throughout London. Contact us today to rent business space in London.
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Entries in The Leathermarket (10)

Wednesday
Jun202012

Office space to rent near London Bridge

A traditional core of London, London Bridge remains at the very heart of the capital’s thriving cultural diversity. With a plethora of transport links connecting London Bridge to the rest of the city the area is a sound place to locate your business.

The area’s mainline and underground stations serve over 42 million people every year and with connections to Bedford, Brighton and many other London urban areas it is a very accessible place to do business.

The region is part of a business improvement district (BID) between London Bridge and Tower Bridge with grants available for special programs and incentives to assist businesses or to recruit new business.

As part of our London commercial property portfolio we have a number of premises within close proximity to London Bridge station:

The Leathermarket, SE1 3ER

This wonderful period building has been restored from its original state as a tannery, with a number of office units available to rent just a short walk from London Bridge and Borough tube stations. Numerous bus routes are also available in the area to make commuting a breeze. This unique business environment is already home to a host of creative companies. If you’d like to hear more from existing tenants watch the YouTube video below.

Great Guildford Business Square, SE1 0HS

Formerly a metal box factory built in the late 19th Century, Great Guildford Business Square is yet another period building within the Workspace Group portfolio that has been transformed into a property that fosters innovation and creativity. Whilst maintaining its historical charm, these premises are just moments from the buzzing Borough markets and the cultural flavour of London Bridge. The office space includes Broadband and conference and meeting facilities and tenants also benefit from a professional management team.

Hatfield House, SE1 9LX

Situated just 500 metres from Waterloo and Southwark stations Hatfield House enjoys a prominent location on the West Bank of the Thames. The offices are built with a fine array of amenities including Broadband internet access, meeting and conferencing facilities and an on-site café/restaurant that’s ideal for entertaining clients.

Thursday
Jun142012

Legal Essentials for StartUps: Expertise from Michael Buckworth

Michael Buckworth returned to the Club Workspace venue at the Leathermarket for Dreamstake’s event, and gave the entrepreneurial audience a comprehensive introduction to startup law.

Our old friend Mike started out by explaining what exactly a lawyer did. He explained that a lawyer makes things more feasible, they reduce the risk to your business, and they arm you with a knowledge of legal practices, and malpractices!

If you’re a Tech Startup...

After a quick straw-poll, Mike realised that the preponderance of his audience were tech startups. Therefore, he ran through a few case-study-esque examples that were relevant to tech startups.

If you’re website requires a subscription fee, you need to research payment collection law. What happens if users want their money back? What is the procedure if one of your customers claims to have inadvertently paid for your service - if their card was stolen, for example? You need these eventualities to be covered.

If you’re a tech startup who has freelance developers working for you, ensure that they have signed a document that transfers all of the rights to the IP that they create over to you, as otherwise they will legally be the owner of the created IP. Find out more about that here.

Mike said that many startups ask for 'the shortest legal document possible.' In these situations, he asks for your patience, and to accept that legal documents are long for exceptionally good reasons. If a lawyer ever agrees to condense a document for you, just think about what you could be missing.

To USA ex-pats, Mike stressed that the documents that you receive in the UK will look and read quite differently to your native papers. This is because the law is very different, and has evolved in a different judicial and regulatory system. Please don’t be alarmed.

Business Structures

We won’t go through business structure options in too much detail in this blog as Ben Sheils gave us a comprehensive guide to those last week. However, he cleared up the differences between two Ltd company models.

Most Ltd’s are 'limited by shares'. These are the 'better' model in Mike’s opinion as they are easier to invest in, easier to transfer and, overall, they’re an easier ship to sail. Another Ltd model is 'limited by guarantee'. To startup a company that is limited by guarantee, each founder needs to put forward a financial guarantee (in pounds) - by doing this, they 'guarantee' that if the company goes bust, they will pay the predicated amount of money.

Another model is an 'unlimited' company. This means that the business owner is liable for the business. If it goes bust, the owner goes bust.

Data Protection and Cookies

Michael has previously delivered a hugely conclusive workshop on Data Protection, and he reapproached the subject on Tuesday night.

He explained that every startup will need a privacy policy, as otherwise they will leave their ranks open to easy fire due to the Data Protection Act. Please click the link above for an in-depth look at DP.

Mike spoke about cookies, as the EU has recently passed legislation that effects the web-user/cookie relationship. Cookies, in Mr. Buckworth’s words, are 'bits of code that sit on your hard-drive and record info.' If you type in your address, it remembers your address. If you search for 'Football Kit', it remembers your searchwords.

How will the law effect English tech startups? It won’t do much, Mike thinks. Cookies are essential to the smooth running of the internet, in-toto so noone will disrupt their usage, as doing so would jeopardise the entire e-ecosystem.

Terms and Conditions

Terms and conditions are essential for your startup as they are the legally-binding statements that lay-down what your users can and cannot do. They are the rules when you’re at the point of law. Therefore, when you’re creating your T&Cs, make sure every single eventuality is covered. Long documents may be good documents in this case.

To illustrate his point, Mike offered this example: if users are allowed to post comments on your site, you need to write T&Cs about what can and cannot be shared. You need to put in-place a 'flagging' procedure for inappropriate content, and detail this in the T&Cs, too.

A very interesting and important thing to note about T&Cs is that if they aren’t written in 'plain English', then they are not legally binding. You are not bound by Terms and Conditions that use arcane 'lawyer-speak' like 'heretofore', or 'party of the second part.' A useful legal fact to have in your armoury.

Customer and Supplier Contracts

When you draw up your customer or supplier contracts, ensure that they cover: getting paid, limiting liability and the termination of the relationship.

If there’s nothing written in your contracts that explains that you’re allowed to terminate a relationship, you are not allowed to get out. You will be locked-in for a certain amount of time, with no hope of recourse. This could be a costly oversight!

Employees and Interns

Again, Mike has gone into fantastic detail on this subject before, so please click this link to find out about the law surrounding employees, freelancers and interns.

A new nugget of info that Mike threw to the audience on Tuesday was that if you don’t have a document that details what your interns will 'learn' during their tenure at your business, then you could be in trouble. If you have this document in place it reaffirms, in law, that what your offering is a bona-fide internships - a placement that possesses some eduction benefit for the incumbent - rather than an employment position that does not comply with Minimum Wage Law.

Shareholders Agreements

This is, perhaps, Mikey B’s favourite subject. To boil his usual (and extremely helpful) schtick down: Put a shareholders agreement in place early on - if not straight away, then when you’re trading, and can afford one - as they make things a lot more easier when it comes to exiting. Contact a lawyer about a shareholders agreement comparatively early-on in your startups life, as it’ll be easier to decide what happens upon exit when you and your cofounder are living off baked beans and economy teabags, than it will be when your startup is turning over a cool million every quarter.

Legal Advice

As a parting word, Michael asked that if you need legal advice, please talk to a lawyer. They won’t charge you for a quick phonecall to clarify a few issues, at least he won’t. Don’t accept legal advice from ‘that guy who knows it all’, as he probably doesn’t know as much as a lawyer and - in the unlikely event that he does - his advice doesn’t need to be right, whereas a lawyer’s does. If they give out bad advice, you can sue the pants off them. Lawyers have huge indemnity insurance packages in place as their entire business model is advice-based! Ask them, not 'that guy'!

Thank you to Paul and Marina from Dreamstake for hosting the event, and to Mike - of course - for delivering such world-class advice.

Wednesday
Jun132012

StartUp Accounting: The Essentials

After a punishingly wet and windy day we were delighted to see such a strong turnout for Thursday evening’s Startup Accounting workshop. Dreamstake bought accountancy expert Ben Sheils to Club Workspace’s Leathermarket venue for a 90 minute session.

Startup Team

If you are pre-start, take a look at your team. Ben explained that the perfect startup-mix includes a dreamer, a doer and a cynic. One person has the idea, another executes it and one more to tells you both, honestly, whether it’s any good. Ben elaborated: although this triumverate of talent will provide the most sure path to startup success, if no one person takes the lead with financial management, the chances of success are seriously compromised.

Ben recommends that one person from your team takes on the mantle of financial responsibility. One person taking finance seriously is better than three taking it halfheartedly, or noone taking it seriously at all.

Business Planning

Thanks to Gary Weinstein’s comprehensive guide to writing a business plan, we’re all privy to the secrets of writing an effective long plan. Ben Sheils, however, realises that startups sometimes need a shorter answer to the question: what does your business do?

If you are pre-business plan stage, ask yourself these questions in order to better understand your concept:

Where is your business now? What is your product or service? What is your market? How will you reach this market? Who is your competition? How will your product be made? Who are your people? What are your financial projections? How much money do you need? What are the risks of your business?

Although these short questions could yield long answers, they will lend structure to a short document that you could use to convince investors (VCs, angels, crowdfunders) of your integrity and viability.

Starting Up: Shares and Accounts

If you’re starting up, Ben recommended that you consider your share structure and bank account system before you begin.

If you want to split your startup into thirds - if you have three founding partners, for example - don’t split it into three shares, split it into three thousand. This will afford your business much greater flexibility in the future.

With regards to bank accounts, Ben reaffirmed that Ltd companies are required by law to possess a business bank account. A business owners’ personal bank account cannot be used as an Ltd company is classified as another person in law, therefore it cannot share the bank account of another.

Even though it is not mandatory for a sole-trader to hold a separate bank account to that of their business, Ben advises them to do so! It’ll clear up a lot of heartache further down the line the HMRC get involved.

Insurance

Ben explained that if you’re a service provider - rather than a product-based business - you’ll need to take out some Professional Indemnity Insurance. This insurance protects you against any ‘bad advice’ given on your part.

If, on the other hand, your trade is in products, then it is advisable to take out product liability insurance in order to protect you from faulty merchandise.

Public liability insurance is a necessity if you own a premises, for example. Employers liability insurance holds a similar level of importance if you have a team of employees.

VAT

An easy way to think of VAT is as a ‘sales tax’, as that is exactly what it is. If your turnover is in excess of £77k, registration for VAT is compulsory.

Value Added Tax is charged on all sales at 20%. Ben explained that this should be considered when a startup sets out its pricing structure, even if charging VAT is not yet compulsory at that stage.

If, as a startup, you predict that you will ‘eventually’ make a turnover of over £77k, you will either have to lose the 20% from your existing pricing scheme or you’d have to raise your prices. The latter may deter customers who have become used to a certain price point, perhaps planning ahead may be the way to go.

Once you have registered for VAT, you are required to submit a VAT Return every quarter. However, this may not be the case if you are eligible for one of the government’s Flat Rate schemes. Flat Rate schemes allow startups to pay one fixed-fee to the VAT man, instead of an amount that is directly related to their sales.

PAYE

PAYE Tax - or Pay As You Earn - is an ‘employment tax’. Registration for PAYE is compulsory for all directors and employees who receive a wage.

The cost that is incurred due to PAYE is the employer’s NI contributions. If you are an employer, you are required to pay 13.8% of each employee’s salary. Therefore, if you take on an employee whose salary is £20,000, the amount you’ll part with is £22,760.

If your PAYE bill is under a certain amount per month, around £1500, you can pay quarterly. If your PAYE bill comes to over the limit you will have to settle-up each month.

Ben took the time to explain that both PAYE and VAT come with weighty punishments if they are not paid. If you miss your return deadline once, a blind eye may be cast. But if you miss the deadline again, the you will feel the long arm. In Ben’s words, ‘if there’s one guy you don’t want to upset, it’s the VAT guy.’

Corporation Tax

Corporation tax is a tax on the profits generated by, and the cash withdrawn from, your company. Corporation tax is charged on companies at a rate between 20% and 27%. As you can deduce from these figures, it is a lot more ‘reasonable’ than income tax.

Soletrader, LLP or Ltd?

Soletraders, as you will know, do not need to put their accounts on public record, and are not required to open a company-specific bank account. A Soletrader’s business is not classified a separate ‘person in law’. On the other hand, Ltd companies are classified as a ‘separate person in law.’ Ben advised that if you are a tech company who is in need of funding, a Ltd company may be the best model to chose.

Ben Sheils’ told us that his company is an LLP - a Limited Liability Partnership. LLPs sit in the middle of the soletrader and Ltd models as LLPs are taxed as an individual, but they are still classified as a separate entity in law.

Accounting Vs Bookkeeping

The difference between accounting and bookeeping was cleared up. Bookkeepers deal with the everyday finance details and records of a company, whereas an accountant works with things like tax issues, and involvement in schemes such as SEIS or EIS.

Ben recommends that startups use a good bookkeeping software system, instead of keeping financial records by hand. Xero, Kashflow and FreeAgent come with Ben’s highest approval.

These systems do not only provide a bookkeeping service, you can also use the results that these smart-spreadsheets generate to give yourself some management feedback each month. You can measure your sales targets and track performance by analysing the data generated.

Family and Friends Investment

If you haven’t got quite enough money to startup, it is wise to look first family and friends. However, Ben warned the all startups to keep business and personal separate. Even if you’re borrowing money from your Nan, get her to sign a piece of paper that makes the agreement between you crystal clear.

Crowdfunding

When the subject of crowdfunding arose, Ben announced that he was a sceptic! This is because, at the end of a successful crowd round, you can end up with hundreds of investors. Such a high volume of investors is difficult to manage, especially if you are eventually looking to exit further down the line.

Ben suggested that startups create an SPV (a Special Purpose Vehicle) into which crowdfunders can invest. Your business can then treat the SPV as a single investor, rather than as one-hundred plus. This enables enhanced flexibility and increased investability.

Thank You

Thank you to Ben Sheils for laying on an information-rich advice night, and thank you to Paul and Marina from Dreamstake for hosting the top notch event as part of their Dreamstake Academy. A quick reminder for all Club Workspace members: you can access Dreamstake’s Academy events for free! If you’d like to bring a guest, the ticket price is £15.

Thursday
May312012

How to Write a Business Plan

On the evening of Tuesday 29th May Dreamstake introduced Gary Weinstein to Club Workspace’s Leathermarket venue. Gary shared secrets about how to write a winning business plan.

Gary has written plans for international giants, SMEs and for pre-start companies. His experience at all levels makes him the perfect candidate to guide an audience full of entrepreneurs through the pitfalls of business planning.

Are Business Plans Important?

Gary cleared up that question right away: of course it is important to have a business plan! However, Gary didn’t just give the usual, expected reasons for the importance of planning. Everyone in the audience knew that a watertight business plan would help persuade VCs, Angels or Banks to part with their money.

Gary has his finger on the pulse of the modern startup world. Gary explained that if you have an impressive plan, it will help you ascertain funding on crowdfunding platforms. If you chose to raise funding on one of the many emerging crowdfunding sites, it is your job to encourage multiple investors to back your startup. Having an exemplary plan will only help capture the imaginations of prospective crowdfunders.

Business Plan: Section One - Objective and Milestones

The first section of your business plan should include your Objectives and Milestones. You should split your key business objectives into three sections: year one, year two, and years 3-5. Your objectives need to be specific milestones that are directly tied to a date-of-achievement - they can’t merely be haphazard predictions. Using specific dates will exhibit the control you have over the future of your startup.

In this first section, Gary recommends that you include sections for ‘Mission’ and ‘Vision.’ These small sections would further demonstrate the ambitions you hold for your business. ‘Mission’ should be something like, ‘to be the leading sausage supplier in London’; the ‘Vision’ section should be along the lines of, ‘to attain 1000+ repeat customers with ‘x’ months.’

Gary also recommends that you share your ‘Values’ in the first section of your plan. Do not claim to have a unique idea, as you probably don’t. Facebook, Google and Ebay are all non-unique propositions, however they combine several non-unique elements to form a desirable, useable and market-leading package. Use your ‘Values’ section to explain how your package sets you apart.

Business Plan: Section Two - The Company

You should use this section of your business plan to start getting into the financials - you’ll have a chance to go into huge financial detail in Section Eight. In this second section you should discuss your ownership structure: whether you are a Ltd or Partnership, for example. You should detail whether you are eligible for EIS or SEIS funding.

Gary explained that startups should question whether they are being mean and lean enough. Investors will be discouraged by your plan if they see that you’re paying yourself a ‘generous’ salary and spending money on potentially erroneous supplies.

In this section, explain how much funding it will take to startup. Explain, also, where you have attained money from beforehand. If you have won any competitions, secured microfinance loans, have attained crowdfunding or family money, drop those details in here.

Lay out a prediction of how you will phase your spending in direct relation to the achievement of the milestones that you outlined in section one. Doing so will demonstrate your clear understanding of the spend required to hit each target.

Business Plan: Section Three - Product (or Service)

Deciding whether you’re a product or service sounds simple, but when techies speak in terms of software creation, we enter a grey area.

This decision impacts other areas of your business plan. For example, if you approach an investor with a ‘product’, they will expect more up-front spend to be required than if you have a service proposition.

Business Plan: Section Four - Market Analysis

Before going into detail with this section Gary warned that you must be realistic. Investors would rather hear the real figures than an exaggeration. If you inflate the numbers, your credibility will diminish.

Include data that focuses on your customer. Include buying pattern statistics and trends. These figures will not only encourage investors, but it will also help you better target your sales efforts.

Research your competition via Companies House. Include data on what they are doing.  Analyse their model, strategy and website as best you can. Use them as an example as to how you are going to depart from the norms of your industry.

If a similar idea to yours has failed in the past, be sure to include it in this section! Explain why they failed and explain how you will avoid making their mistakes. Analyse their pitfalls and highlight how your model is different. Investors will be heartened that you approach the subject of failure head on, rather than trying to swerve past the issue.

Business Plan: Section Five - Development Plan

In this section, include manageable phases, 3 or 6 months chunks, that detail what you are going to achieve in each 3/6 month section.

Like the spending plans from sections two and eight, a business development plan reaffirms the control that you have over your business.

Business Plan: Section Six - Strategy

Gary recommends that you use the SWOT analysis model to decipher a strategy. Speak about your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Your strengths include the knowledge and innovations that set you apart from your marketplace. Speak about the scope of your vision and the minutiae of your technological innovations - without disclosing IP, of course, unless you have an NDA.

Recognising you weaknesses is important. Potential weaknesses include your lack of credibility - as you’re completely new - and your lack of brand equity and consumer awareness.

The Opportunities that you can exploit could include the current financial climate. Although it’s a time of doom and gloom, you could be uniquely placed to take advantage. Threats are your larger competition. How will you deal with their aggressive tactics, or their ability to be flexible with price?

Also, in this section, include specifics about your PPC strategy. Which adwords will you use? What is the approximate CPC? Consider whether you’ll use an affiliate advertising model - like those offered by LateRooms - to provide yourself with ad-supported revenue stream. If you could open up a secondary revenue stream such as the above, this could be beneficial.

Business Plan: Section Seven - Organisation Structure and Roles

In this section you need to detail your employee structure. Begin by explaining the staff structure that you will use immediately after investment, and progress to the structure that you hope to achieve in 3-5 years.

It is wise to include a section that explains the role and purpose of each member of staff. You need to make it clear why each of your team-members are necessary, as an employee is a huge investment. Not only do you need to account for their salary, but the relevant PAYE/NI costs, too.

Also, explain why you are investable. Go into detail about why you have what it takes to lead your business. Be sure to include shining, relevant examples from your background in the industry.

Business Plan: Section Eight - Financials

In this section, you must include a sales forecast, a profit and loss forecast and cash flow predictions. Your market research will help you predict accurate cost-of-sale and overhead figures. These three documents are complex and important in their own right, be sure to be accurate and detailed.

In addition to the aforementioned spreadsheets, include a Cash Burn prediction. A cash burn prediction puts your worst-case scenario on paper. It details how quickly you would lose money if no business came your way.

A cash burn prediction can be used to explain your contingency plans. You can answer the question: what would I do if I have zero Sales after six months? Would you lay off staff? Change your marketing plan? Downsize premises?

Another area to cover in this section is your Exit Strategy. Gary suggested that some companies could use their P/E ratio (shareprice to company earnings ratio) to determine at what price they are likely to sell. Furthermore, Gary encouraged businesses to suggest what ‘kind’ of business or likely to buy them out, and they could also make some predictions as to the likelihood of an IPO.

Business Plan: The Other Bits

After you’ve perfected the eight sections of your plan be sure to include all points of reference in your Appendices. You could have the most thoroughly researched marketing plan that your investor has ever seen, but if you don’t reference your sources, the investor has no reason to believe that your figures are correct.

A pre-Business Plan document, that you can use to whet the appetite of investors, is your Executive Summary. An ES is a document that is no longer than 5 pages, a pared down version of your BP.

Thank You

Thank you to Paul and Marina from Dreamstake for putting together this wonderful workshop. Tuesday’s event formed part of their impressive Dreamstake Academy. If you’re a startup or an entrepreneur, please use the link in the opening paragraph to check them out. A huge thanks, of course, to Gary Weinstein, whose knowledge and expertise will, I hope, be of great benefit to many of you.

Friday
May042012

Startup Essentials: Exit Strategy, Startup Accounting and IP

On the evening of Wednesday 2nd May we were delighted to welcome Dreamstake’s Startup Essentials event to our Leathermarket Club Workspace venue.

The event saw three speakers, each an expert in their field, take to the stage and share industry tips with the gathered audience. Michael Buckworth of Buckworth Solicitors provided legal info, Ben Sheils from the Micro Business Team gave accounting tips and Gerard Chandrahasen of SC Patents spoke on the subject of IP.

Michael Buckworth on Exit Strategy

Mike has hosted plenty of legal seminars at Club Workspace in the past, and he delivered another quality workshop last night, this time about Exit Strategy.

Mike advised that startups should think about exit strategies up-front, even when you’re pre-start. Having an exit strategy in place before you start saves a lot of money and mess further down the line.

Another thing to get on top of is your IP. Gerard offered up more advice on this later on, but Mike’s advice was short and sweet: make sure your own your IP! If you attempt to exit and discover that you don’t own your IP, this could hinder your exit procedure.

Mike also spoke about which business model to chose. If you’re a social enterprise, you may chose to set-up as a CIC. Michael advised that CIC isn’t the best structure to adopt if you are looking to generate VC or Angel funding further down the line. Michael also explained that LLPs are less investable than PLCs or LTDs. In short: it is far easier to exit/business-transfer a PLC or LTD than it is an LLP.

Another important factor when exiting is Key Man Risk. In other words, ask yourself: can your business run without you? Is your knowledge integral to your success? If you disappeared, would the bottom fall out of your operation? If the answer is yes, than it may prove difficult to exit your business.

Michael advised that if you are a 'key man' to your business, ensure that there is a procedure in place that deals with the eventuality of your exiting, death or incapacitation. If you can 'productise' your knowledge, then do it! Perhaps in a database or similar? Exit will get a lot easier.

Ben Sheils on Startup Accounting

Ben took us through the accountancy necessities for a new startup. He was quick to echo Michael Buckworth, Ben stated that LTDs were the way to go if you were looking to undertake some investment rounds.

However, before you think of funding, there are some basics to tick off the list. You need a Limited Company bank account. You cannot run your business accounts using a personal bank account. If relevant, you need to register for VAT and PAYE, and you will definitely need to make HMRC aware that you are trading. Ben advises that the earlier you register the better.

Ben reminded everyone who is thinking about employing staff about the required National Insurance contributions. Employers are entitled to pay 13.8% of their employees' salary to NI. You will pay £22, 760 for a member of staff whose wage is £20k, for example.

Ben spoke next about the SEIS tax breaks that benefit VC investors and angels. Dreamstake and Club Workspace have hosted an event on SEIS Funding before! Instead of going over old ground, to precis: the investor benefits from tax breaks and Capital Gains Tax relief relative to the money that they have invested. Therefore, this incentivises investors to invest as they stand to gain.

The last subject that Ben addressed was R&D Tax Credits. Innovative businesses can claim £225k worth of tax relief if they spend £100k in Research and Development. There are so may companies out there who aren’t aware of their ability to claim R&D Tax Credit! Ben recommends that you spread the word.

Gerard Chandrahasen on Trademarking & Copyrighting your IP

Gerard began by explaining what qualifies as your Intellectual Property. He listed confidential information, brands, technological ideas, the code and graphics of a website, the design and layout of an app as examples. Make sure that you own these examples of your IP - if you don’t, it can make your business less valuable or less secure.

Another point that Gerard mentioned was this: If you’re in a position where you would like to disclose your IP, put a Non-Disclosure Agreement in place before you disclose.

To clear up the basics, Gerard explained that Trademarks protect brands and names, whilst copyrighting protects the look and design of a product, or your web-code for example. Gerard advised companies to copyright their code and graphics, doing so makes official the presumption that the code and graphics belongs to them.

In terms of registering a brand name, Gerard recommended that you chose a 'strong' name that is 'non-descriptive'. To explain what he meant by 'non-descriptive', Gerard offered this example: if your company sells bananas, don’t call it 'Yellow Bananas' - as you will not be protected against other companies using the words ‘yellow bananas’ to sell their bananas. This is because the words 'yellow' and 'bananas' are descriptive words that are widely used.

A trademark can used as an offensive protection of your brand. If someone has set up a bogus Twitter account posing as your brand, for example, a TM can be used to let them know that they have committed an infringement.

A patent can be used similarly in terms of other companies who may be copying your idea. Gerard explained that a patent is basically an agreement between you and the government. You agree to tell the government how you’re developing your new idea, and they give you a time-dependent monopoly on development.

A patent can also be used as a bargaining chip. For instance, if a customer believes that you are the only company in the industry who can offer this specific service, then one can assume that they will be willing to pay well for your ahead-of-the-curve service.

Thank You

Thank you to everyone who came along to Leathermarket for the event, and thank you to Paul Dowling of Dreamstake for hosting the evening. We hope to see you all again soon at Club Workspace.