Can I protect my website idea / in terms of the way it works? Can someone steal my website idea?

I have just re-launched LikeMyNovel.com as an 'Online' Literary Agency, accepting submissions online - and also allowing those members to share their submission on social media to promote themselves, get feedback and reviews etc. I think this is an original idea, as I don't believe anyone else is doing this like me in terms of how it functions. Can I protect this idea? I have not come across any other Literary Agencies that run as an online operation.

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8

According to a patent/trademark attorney. You would have to create a complete - unique - proprietary function that could be copyrighted or patented. You would have to be able to describe not only the design but the exact technical coding that makes it uniquely yours. It can't resemble anything anyone else is doing. All that being said, even if you were to do that, website designs and functions are easily duplicated by any webmaster with good understanding of code. You would have to be willing to sue anyone who infringed on your idea, anywhere in the world, in order to maintain your rights.
It seems more productive to create the best product and service for your clients and then market yourself as the leading edge in these services. Then if anyone attempts to copy you, they are simply an attempted me-too.

Thanks Sumner, I think you're right!
I just worry that someone with a shed load of money - already established in the field can come along and copy - but also have more time and resources to make it more successful, more quickly and possibly add unique elements I can't afford at this stage. But hey ho, I will do the best I can
Best wishes
Kizzy.

6

Unfortunately, unless you have a proprietary way of doing things that is protect-able with a patent, it is pretty much fair game. The upside is, similar to all the social media websites that popped up after Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter (Google+ for example) people usually stick with the website they are currently using provided the ones that pop up later are not better or offer something different.

Good Luck!

Thanks Adam, this is helpful.
Best wishes, Kizzy

6

A recommendation is to patent your idea in terms of the way it works. If you are successful in getting a patent, you have assured yourself that 1) your work is unique and novel 2) your work is protected from someone else doing it the same way.
If someone knowledgeable in your area of expertise, can just view your website and figure out how you did it - it may be harder to get your patent approved. But patents is a way to protect your idea.

This is kind of what I was thinking in terms of it's functionality - as opposed to the upload and share features. The fact that a Literary Agency is working and functioning in a different way, but I guess I should make a few calls and see what the patent office people say.
Thanks & best, Kizzy.

4

Unfortunately I don't believe so. We are in the process of creating a web application and know that the idea will be stolen and copy catted once we launch so we just know that the winning formula will be in execution and being the best. I know that's not what you want to hear nor was it what I wanted to hear but it is what it is. Best of luck and be the best!

Thanks David - I will try! I really want to be!
Best wishes,
Kizzy.

4

Everything you describe is already being done technically (uploads, downloads, group review & commenting, scheduling,...) You can buy membership packages that will do most if not all of this.

Even if you have a unique use for a specific set of technologies, I don't believe that would be the basis for a patent.

Thanks David.
Best wishes, Kizzy

4

Nope... even if you could you will spend more time trying to enforce it than growing your own business...

My advice is to focus on making a really great site/business that your customers will love. Then they will not look for alternatives and you will be a success. Once you have a real competitive advantage others will be reluctant to try and copy.

Good luck....

Well said, thanks Richard,
Kizzy.

4

Your work is protected under copyright laws in the U.S. Submissions from users and how the information is handled as well as the ownership should be handled in your terms and conditions. If it's software process on your page you want to protect, pursue a process patent. I say this as a business owner who is not an attorney so find a good one depending on your concern level.

Thanks Mark, the process is what I really want to check - so thank you and I plan to. In terms of the users material, that is certainly protected and I state so in my T&Cs
Best wishes
Kizzy.

3

Kizzy, I am not a Intellectual Property/Patent Lawyer, but America was formed on the basis of free enterprise and competition.... Therefore competition in your area of expertise is to be expected...... However, your idea is a good one for perspective unknown writers I would stay with your idea and keep moving toward excellence and exceptionalism

I will Robert, thank you so much
Kizzy.

3

The internet is the ultimate stage for a "rip off" of anything. However, if you have a cleaver web site developer you can survive and prosper amongst the thieves.

I'm yet to find one, Robert - but this will come in time I'm sure,
With best wishes,
Kizzy.

2

Hi Kizzy, good idea. You probably won't be able to patent the concept of sharing books, sites like booksie.com, O'Reilly Media and many others having been doing it for years. The better goal would be to provide features that they are not. On a side note, I noticed a few things about your site that should be addressed, you may already be working on those. Let me know, if not.

Hi Rick
Thanks for this. I was wondering if the feature of uploading the submission for agency review is protectable... I'll think more about this. Having a few issues with webdevelopers and not being very tech savvie - may not know what some of these might be. Trying to sort a number of things, but with barely any money to spend this is difficult.
Thanks for your advice
Best wishes, Kizzy.

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