Protecting your IP – Matt Sammon

Starting a new business is an incredibly exciting time. There’s a lot to prepare in order to launch successfully. Something that’s often overlooked is intellectual property, whether that’s researching it, registering it or protecting it. At Sonder IP, we specialise in helping businesses protect the things that matter. We’ve  brought together some simple advice to make sure your IP is protected so your business can flourish in your market. 

What should I protect? 

There are four main types of intellectual property you can protect; trademarks, registered designs, copyright and patents. 

Trademarks must have some distinctive character; they must be sufficiently different from existing trademarks in the same sector to avoid any confusion for your consumers. It’s important to remember that trademarks require renewal after ten years. 

Registered designs must be different to anything that already exists in the public domain. When you protect a registered design, you can protect 3D physical shapes and configurations in addition to 2D designs, patterns and decorations. Don’t get caught in the trap of unveiling a design to the public before registering your IP – you may lose your right to protection which would cost your business. 

Copyright protection only exists when a piece of work exists physically and has been created independently. For example, a literary work must be physically written down. You cannot protect an idea, you’ll  need physical evidence. It doesn’t have to be visually appealing so can therefore apply to block text or building designs for example. 

Patents must be unique compared to other inventions in the public domain. You’ll need the cover of a NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) when discussing the invention prior to doing your application otherwise your application could suffer. Your invention need not be be visually pleasing but must offer some technical value. Crucially, your invention should not be a modification of something that already exists. 

Why should I protect it? 

There are several benefits to protecting your intellectual property. The most obvious ones being saving your business time and money in rebranding. Secondly, you’ll  be safe in the knowledge that your brand is protected for the future. If you or your business find yourself in an IP infringement, the consequences can vary hugely. Don’t take the risk! 

Make sure you carry out your own research and due diligence. If you’re unsure whether the entity you’re hoping for is available, it’s always advisable to seek the help of a professional. You’d be surprised at how easy the process is. 

How do I protect it? 

When starting the process of protecting your IP, there are some steps you can take yourself. Firstly, consider the timing. The earlier you can carry out your research, the better. You don’t want to be in a position of launching your brand and only to  find out that you’re actually in an IP infringement. 

Check domains, research your particular market, check the Intellectual Property Office Register. After that, it’s time to seek the advice of a professional. At Sonder IP, we work with a range of businesses, big or small to protect their valuable property.  

Making sure you take the appropriate steps to protecting your IP is vital for any business, no matter your industry. We would encourage business owners to  put the research in on your IP before committing to a full brand strategy, whether you’re just starting out or carrying out a big rebrand. Protect the things that make your business unique and help yourself stand out in your market. 

You can find out more about Matt and Sonder IP on his partner profile.

The Northern Affinity Partners Meeting – Friday 28th February 2020

Last Friday, The Northern Affinity welcomed some new faces for the first time in an open partner meeting. Thank you to everyone who came along. It was great to meet new faces and catch up with old ones. The theme of the day was protecting and growing your business. We were lucky to hear from several of our partners who delivered insightful and interesting presentations. 

Most of us get into business because we want to turn our passion into a reality. But that doesn’t always mean we’re the experts on everything to do with business. Luckily, we have partners who are on hand to help.

Firstly, we heard from Alex and Andy from ABL Business who gave us a practical guide to cash flow and why it’s important. Anita and Andrew (I Credit Management LTD) took us through how to keep your cash flowing to keep your business breathing. We then heard from Jeff Dunn of Spencer Hayes Group. His case study explored the importance of making sure you have the right commercial insurance. Finally, Gary Lumb (Yorkshire Rose Financial Planning) and Martin Hibbert (Alexander Calder) gave an insightful presentation on how you can protect you, your business and your future. Thank you to all of you for your time and expertise. 

Thank you to Aspire Igen who provided a fantastic buffet lunch for the event. Aspire Igen is a Yorkshire based social enterprise committed to helping change lives through access to education and work. You can find out more on their website.

The Northern Affinity News

We are planning to host a large number of future workshops, networking and training events at The Northern HQ and at least one other venue. These sessions will be £20 per person for two hours. Those interested in hosting a workshop should contact Michael for further details.

The Northern Affinity will also be expanding our services and switching up how we can help our partners going forward. More details of this will be unveiled at the April partners meeting.

Had a big breakthrough? Won a great new client? Please tell us! We want to hear all your good news. Please email Michael with any updates and we will help you share the news on social media.

The next meeting will be another open meeting on Friday 27th March 2020 at The Northern HQ

March Events and Workshops: 

Strategy – Business Plans and People Plans – Wednesday 4th March 2020

Introduction to The Northern Affinity – Thursday 5th March 2020

In Business – Marketing for busy small business owners – Thursday 12th March 2020

Declutter and Digitalise Your Workspace – Friday 13th March 2020

In Business – Networking – Tuesday 17th March 2020

Social Media Audit Masterclass – Friday 20th March 2020

Effective Leadership Skills – Wednesday 25th March 2020

Co-working open day – Thursday 26th March 2020

For further details on The Northern Affinity, becoming a partner or any upcoming events, please contact Michael.

The Northern Affinity Partners Meeting – Friday 31st January 2020

We enjoyed a fantastic partner event on Friday. It was a great opportunity to connect and share valuable knowledge. We will be hosting these events on the last Friday of every month at the Northern HQ

Business and Brand Strategy

Distinguishing a clear business and brand strategy can be confusing. However, we were lucky enough to hear from Brenda Etchells (Carduus Ltd) and Fliss Lee (Honest Folk) about combining the two to find the ‘sweet spot’ where your business values meet your customers values to create one cohesive strategy.

We have all experienced a business who don’t seem to practise what they preach when it comes to company values. We discussed at length the importance of defining your values; not just by using positive buzz words you think your customer wants to hear, but by delving in to what really matters to your customers and ingraining these in the way you run your business. 

Using some interesting examples, we learnt more about what makes up branding (it’s more than just a logo!) and how making some simple changes can strengthen your brand and help towards achieving your business goals.


Sales Mentality

In the afternoon, we welcomed Pete Evans (Ventas Sales) who took us through the sales process, with a difference. Identifying your sales mindset and knowing where your weaknesses are will ultimately improve your performance. Even simple things like putting your phone away before a pitch can make all the difference to your mindset when entering the room. 

One thing we often forget with sales is the importance of practising the process. Grab a friend or your business partner and go through your pitch so you’re confident before stepping into the room with the big players! There were lots of useful things to take away and I think we will all be spicing up our sales process and improving our mindsets to make sure we achieve our goals in sales.

The Northern Affinity News

Yorkshire Meetups

We are very grateful that many of you travel from far and wide to come and connect which is why we’re looking into arranging some future sessions in both Huddersfield and Harrogate to expand our community at The Northern Affinity. 

Dates for your diary: 

Our second round of peer group taster sessions will be running on Wednesday 26th February.
There will be a free open-day for hot deskers on Wednesday 27th February. Please share this with your connections who may be interested in trying out the co-working environment.
Sarah Bradley will be running a HR clinic on Wednesday 27th February for anyone wishing to discuss their HR strategy.
The next peer group coaching session for The Northern Affinity partners will be taking place on the morning of Friday 28th February before the next partner meeting. This meeting will be open for non-members to attend so please invite your connections along. Please contact Michael to reserve a space. 

For further details on The Northern Affinity and any upcoming events, please contact Michael.

Unsecured business loans

Every business at some stage of their life will require some form of funding; whether this be at the start up phase or during periods of growth and even perhaps during times of cash flow uncertainty.

If you have ever considered any funding then you may have come across the terms of ‘secured loans’ and ‘unsecured loans’. Both of these loans are completely different and before you make an application it is key to understand the difference between the two. 

Put very simply, secured loans are a credit agreement in which a person may use their property as security. Many people opt for this option if they are a homeowner or are looking for a perhaps cheaper option. Of course, this is outweighed by the threat of losing your home if repayments were not kept up of course!

Secured loans will of course by the nature of the beast not be available for people whom do not own homes but those they are available to can borrow anything from around £25,000 up to around £5,000,000. As with many things in life, the amount you could borrow and the interest available will all differ depending on the individual and the amount of equity available in the home. 

Secured loans can be truly beneficial for those with a not so good credit score and those whom are hoping to borrow larger amounts. There may also be the possibility of going through interest only periods too.

Unsecured loans on the other side are perhaps the most go-to choice for businesses looking for working capital. Unsecured loans are available to everyone with a reasonable credit score and for those whom do not own their own property. These loans can come from banks and other various lenders; primarily online companies and other peer-to-peer providers. 

Unsecured loans offer quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to repayment time periods and normally range from one to five years of fixed payments. On average, the best loan rates are set for people looking to repay their loan over a period of three to five years. Of course, this then means a higher interest rate for shorter-term loans. 

Unsecured loans are normally secured on the terms of a personal guarantee and can allow an individual to borrow anything from £5000 up to £500,000. You may find that unsecured loans are approved very quickly and transfer of funds tend to come through very swiftly too. 

If you are considering applying for some form of business loan then we recommend you take your time and look around for the choice that suits yourself and your circumstances. An unsecured loan may possibly give you the short term option that you and your business needs in a swift manner. A secured loan may give you the chance to borrow more money and allow you to grow or expand your business as best you can. 

If you ever need more advice on loan options for your business have a look at

Commercial Property

When starting a business, there comes a time when hunting for a business premises begins. This perhaps may come in the form of an office, warehouse, yard, store fronts etc. However there comes a time when you have to make the decision between leasing a premises and applying for a commercial mortgage. In this short article, allow me to give you an overview to what a commercial mortgage is, and how it may benefit you.

In many cases, applying for a commercial mortgage to be able to purchase your own business premises can perhaps be the best solution for your business needs. 

Of course, a commercial property can support you in getting your own business property however it can also be used to buy an existing business if this is part of your plans; so if you do want to own another business then a commercial mortgage might be right for you.

Taking out a commercial mortgage will help you to make substantial capital gains through capital growth and can help you to make profits much more easily. 

Many people find that a commercial mortgage helps them to receive a stable environment for business planning simply due to the fact that mortgages such as these do not fluctuate in value like rental prices can. Also, you will find that the majority of these loans offer a nice low monthly interest rate which helps businesses to save money which can be put towards other projects within a business. 

Any interest on commercial mortgages is tax deductible which does help with the annual tax overhead that comes with owning a business and can really help with cashflow – something we all know can be tough to manage whilst starting a business from scratch. 

Plus, as mentioned earlier, the value on your business property will appreciate over time. If you were to sell your current property for a higher price an moved on to another location you all of a sudden have some cold hard capital to play around with and either use it to advertise, take on more staff, or perhaps even buy a larger property. 

So if you have ever considered obtaining a commercial mortgage then it may just be one of the best things that you can do for your business and may be a great solution for you. 

We have direct access to an extensive panel of funders that can support anyone from first time buyers right up to experienced commercial property owners. Our experience can help you with the commercial mortgages for any commercial property from offices, care homes, licensed premises, land, warehouses and much more. 

Typically, you can expect terms of anything up to 30 years and up to 80% loans to value or 100% funding depending on additional security – plus with interest only periods too a commercial mortgage may give you the best start to business, or give you a strong stepping stone for your expansion plans.

Factoring finance

Factoring finance is a very common form of financing, and it is estimated that it is used by around 50,000 businesses in the UK alone. 

If you have never heard of this form of finance, then you will pleased to know that it allows the borrower the chance to receive cash almost within hours and should be seen as a massive cashflow benefiting form of finance. It normally works by a business selling it’s invoices to a third party, known as the factor, at a discount. This allows yourself as the business owner to have fast access to cash that you can use as you please and can help to ease many cashflow issues that you may be facing. 

Every business at some stage of their lifespan will need a bit of help with their cashflow. It could even be a case that you are selling so much that you do not have the funds to pay for the raw materials or the equipment to make the next batch of products; and with invoice terms normally set around 30 day terms or even longer at 45 days or 60 days having to wait this long just sometimes is not feasible for running business operations.

According to historic records, factoring has been around for a very long time indeed. Historians can trace it back to the Roman Empire and further so has been around for around 1000 years or so! 

There are so many befits of factoring and should certainly be considered by any business if you need some quick support with your finances. We all wish our customers would pay on time, or even immediately, however this is rarely the case. Having money in your bank is much more beneficial than lying around as a piece of paperwork; and with factoring invoicing you get the ability to receive cash very quickly. Normally, the fees can be made available to you within hours of applying!

This allows you to plan out your finances much better. Once you know exactly when money will hit your bank account you will have the chance to make plans more easier and take less risks. There is also a chance that you may be able to attract investors and borrow capital as you can prove a regular cash flow. 

This form of financing can really help any one in the business to business sales sector and is fairly fast and straight forward to set up. You have the ability to borrow up to 90% of the value of the pre-paid invoices available and included debtor insurance too. 

There are other products in this field which are industry specific including factoring, invoice financing, construction finance, recruitment finance among others. 

If you would like to find out more about factor financing or to learn more about how myself and my team can support you then do be sure to get in touch. It all starts with a simple conversation.

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