If I want to open a website for an online business, how do I copyright it?

The designs for the website are done and now im looking for investors. Should I copyright the business idea of the website and the designs so that nobody could steal the designs (because I do email some pages for investors to see what I’m talking about) or use my idea to make their own website?

Asked on December 7, 2015 under Business Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) You can't copyright (or patent or trademark) ideas.
2) You can copyright original creative works, such as original graphics, pictures, text, etc. Again, though, it's not the idea that you copyright--it's the actual text, graphics, etc. after you create them. (Actually, the mere act of creating something original automatically gives you some copyright protection, though you can register the copyright for additional protection.)
3) You can also protect yourself by having anyone whom you wish to show your concept or designs (e.g. investors or possible partners) sign a confidentiality and nondisclosure agreement under which they agree that they are receiving the information/documention only for purposes of evaluating a busines relationship or investment and have no right to disclose the material to others and/or use it for their own benefit. Any transactional attorney (an attorney who does contracts, etc.) can draft such an agreement for your use; and if it's not worth the cost of having an attorney draft up such an agreement, the material is probably not worth protecting. Note that if you do this, you have to get the agreement signed before you disclose to the other party.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.