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


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.

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