How to Patent a Website Idea
There is often confusion about patents, trademarks and copyright. A patent is protection for a new product that incorporates a unique design or invention. A trademark is used to protect a name from being used by others and misleading the public. A copyright is what you need to protect intellectual property. An idea itself is not eligible for protection under any of these methods. Only a tangible execution of an idea can be protected. To protect a website, you will need copyright protection. Here's how you can protect your website from copyright infringement.
Visit the US Patent and Trademark website if you want to patent a website (see resources). In order to do this, you will have to show proof of an invention or concept that distinctly belongs to you and that no one else has. This invention or concept will have to be fully realized on the website and something that, if infringed upon by another party, would result in a financial loss to you. You will need to apply for the patent and submit tangible proof in order to receive a patent. It's more likely that you will be applying for a copyright.
Apply for a copyright at the United States Copyright Office. Visit the website (see resources) and apply electronically by clicking "Electronic Copyright Office" under the "How to Register a Work." You need one form only. This is form CO. It replaces all other forms. Click on the form and fill out all of the required information. It is best to copyright your website as a whole, but you can copyright specific articles, images and other intellectual property individually.
Apply for a trademark on the name of your website by visiting the US Patent and Trademark website. First, search to make sure the name isn't already trademarked. If it isn't, you can apply for the trademark by clicking "Where Do I Start" and scrolling down to the "Trademark Electronic Application." You can apply for a trademark if the name you want to register is so unique and well known that use of it by anyone else could infringe upon the financial security you have in the name.
Tips & Warnings
- Check websites for the most current registration fees for these forms of protection.