What elements of your website can be protected?
- PATENTS (UTILITY MODELS)-
- E-commerce systems,
- search engines
- other technical Internet tools may be protected by patents or utility models;
- Software, including the text-based HTML code used in websites,
- Software, including the text-based HTML code used in websites
- Creative website content, such as
- written material,
- Business names,
- product names,
- domain names
- other signs posted on your website
- INDUSTRIAL DESIGNS
- Computer-generated graphic symbols,
- screen displays,
- graphic user interfaces (GUIs)
- TRADE SECRET LAWS
- Information, including
- program device,
- technique, or
- Hidden aspects of your website, such as
- confidential graphics,
- source code,
- object code,
- programs or other technical descriptions,
- data flow charts,
- logic flow charts,
- user manuals,
- data structures,
- database contents
How to protect your website
- Protecting your IP rights –
- Register your trademark
- Register a domain name that is user-friendly and reflects your trademark, business name or character of your business. If your domain name can also be registered as a trademark, then it is advisable to do so, since it strengthens your power to enforce your rights against anyone else who tries to use the name to market similar products and services, and prevents someone else from registering the same name as a trademark
- Patenting online business methods,
- Register your website and copyright material
- Non-disclosure of your trade secrets with employees, maintenance contractors, website hosts, Internet providers via confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement;
- Awareness that the content is protected
- Mark your trademarks with the trademark symbol ®, TM, SM, etc.
- Use a copyright notice (the symbol © ), the name of the copyright owner, and the year in which the work was first published)
- Use watermarks that embed copyright information into the digital content itself. The digital watermark may be Trademarks
- Use a digital time stamp which demonstrates what the state of the content was at a given time
- Public Usage of your Intellectual Property Rights:
Having a copyright statement on every page of your website that spells out your business’ terms on use of the page
- Controlling access and use of your website content –
- Online agreements – to grant visitors only a limited license to use content available on or through your website.
- Encryption – software products, phonograms and audiovisual works may include encryption to safeguard them from unlicensed use.
- Access control to check the identity of the user, the identities of the content files, and the privileges that each user has for each file
If you pay a person to develop your website,
who owns the copyright?
- IF WEBSITE DEVELOPED BY EMPLOYEE –
If your website has been developed by your employees who are employed for this purpose, then, in most countries, you (as the employer) would own the copyright over the website, unless you otherwise agreed with your employees. However, for a small business, this is rarely the case.
- IF WEBSITE DEVELOPED BY OUTSOURCING –
Most companies outsource the creation of their website design and/or content to an outside contractor, and assume they own IP rights in it because they paid for the work. Beware! You may be surprised to find out that you do not own the IP rights in what has been created for you. Independent contractors (contrary to employees) usually own IP rights in the works they create – even if you have paid for it –, unless otherwise agreed in a written contract.
In practice, this means that the independent web developer will usually own copyright and other IP rights in the website, as well as in the design and elements contributing to that design (such as colors, gifs, jpegs, setup, hyperlinks, text coding). Without a valid, written agreement transferring to you all these rights, you may end up owning nothing except perhaps a nonexclusive license to use your own site.