Is it possible to copyright a website idea before the website has been launched?

I am attempting to launch a crowdfunding campaign for a website idea, before the site is fully constructed. How can I make sure my idea stays safe?

Asked on August 3, 2015 under Business Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) You can't copyright ideas. Copyright protects an actual (i.e. not just thought about, but made or created) original creative endeavor, such as a textual, graphic, scultupural, photographic or video creation, or new software code.

2) More generally, mere "ideas," no matter how revolutionary, are not protected by any form of intellectual property protection (e.g. patents, copyright or trademark).

3) Disclose as little of the idea as you can to anyone not involved in working on it--secrecy is protection.

4) Have anyone who works on the idea (or to whom you must disclose it, such as for financing purposes) sign a non-disclosure/confidentiality agreement *before* you show them the idea. This agreement will state that the idea belongs to you and that they may not disclose it to any other person without your written permission or use it for their own benefit. This agreement will be a contract, which can be enforced like any other contract: if someone violates it, you could sue them for monetary compensation and/or for a court order ("injunction") prohibiting them from using or disclosing the idea.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) You can't copyright ideas. Copyright protects an actual (i.e. not just thought about, but made or created) original creative endeavor, such as a textual, graphic, scultupural, photographic or video creation, or new software code.

2) More generally, mere "ideas," no matter how revolutionary, are not protected by any form of intellectual property protection (e.g. patents, copyright or trademark).

3) Disclose as little of the idea as you can to anyone not involved in working on it--secrecy is protection.

4) Have anyone who works on the idea (or to whom you must disclose it, such as for financing purposes) sign a non-disclosure/confidentiality agreement *before* you show them the idea. This agreement will state that the idea belongs to you and that they may not disclose it to any other person without your written permission or use it for their own benefit. This agreement will be a contract, which can be enforced like any other contract: if someone violates it, you could sue them for monetary compensation and/or for a court order ("injunction") prohibiting them from using or disclosing the idea.


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