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.
The problem is that idea cannot be protected at all. If you think of it, the idea comes to many people at once and we are over 7Bln already, so the chance that idea is 100% original is nearing zero. What matters, what can and should be protected is implementation. However, even patents are vulnerable and easily overrun. What to do? We have to live with that. Not a single invention stays with you for a long time. Your IP rights are just a bit of initial leg-up, which fades away if you do not run fast enough. Of course, you may try to go to the court of law and get your US$100M reimbursement -- if you have US$20M for the lawyers. And if you do not -- just run faster than anyone.
You cannot patent an idea - just a unique method of doing it. This makes it next to impossible to achieve protection on the internet because it is so easy to achieve the same idea in many different ways. But that said, I cannot see from your website the unique part of your idea that you wish to protect. Websites like WeBook.com, WritersCafe.org, ProspectAgency.com and many more have been around for quite a while. Are you different in some way I can't see? Their efforts to change the publishing game have been so successful that the major publishers now have online submission and community portals of their own.
The good news is the world is a huge place. There can always be more than one winner. Just do it better and look for a unique positioning for your brand. ;)
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
I would get a membership site for this, if you need assistance on this please email me.
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.