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I'm planning a project at the moment, while building a completely different project at the same time. Both of these projects are quite innovative in the way they either work or the way they are presented. One of the projects hasn't been done before, and the other is being made has competition, but I feel the competitions websites are light years behind what I'm doing.

Is there a way for me to prevent the way my sites work or presented from being stolen? I've thought of patenting parts of them, but it requires £10,000 and I don't have that amount of money. Also, would me putting a Copyright notice on the site or an All Rights Reserved tag give me any muscle when going to websites that I feel have stolen my ideas (if they have)?

Cheers!

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This is more of a legal question and will strongly depend on your and the offending site's jurisdiction –  Pekka 웃 Feb 4 '11 at 19:44

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

You can't really copyright a design, though you can protect things like trade dress, logos, etc. Right now I'm hearing that you're "planning" a project that in your opinion is light years ahead of the competition, but the reality is that no one else has been given the change to decide whether or not this is true yet.

I'd suggest you develop your product and get to market ASAP. If others do copy your functionality, layout, etc., they'll be a Pepsi to your Coca Cola, and at that point it won't really matter what they do.

That would be a better use of your time than carrying a paranoia that everyone will steal your thunder. If you spend enough time on that you'll never actually get the project done, or worse still someone else will have the same idea and get to market quicker.

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Thanks, I am trying my hardest to get it to market ASAP. But it's difficult as I code in ASP.NET all day and then come home to code it in PHP (long story why). But thanks for the pep talk, means a lot :) –  mickburkejnr Feb 5 '11 at 17:52

While you haven't given enough info for anyone to determine whether or not your ideas are unique enough to be patentable, there is precedent for patenting really stupid ideas for which prior art clearly exists. For example, pop-unders were patented, as was Amazon one-click checkout, as was menu-based navigation for MP3 players.

So if it's an actual interface mechanism rather than an aesthetic design, then chances are it's patentable. If you really think you deserve to have exclusive rights over it, and that someone else copying the idea represents a significant monetary loss to you, then perhaps you should take out a loan to pay for the patent application (or find an investor). If the idea isn't worth the application fee, then it probably won't be worth going to court over either.

You'll have the first-mover advantage either way. And many sites have gotten on just fine despite the legions of copycats who tried to ride their coat tails. It's usually whoever gets to market first, has the best service/app, and promotes their site most effectively who ends up dominating the market. I'd focus more on those things than worrying about being copied.

And, no, copyright notices do not give you any kind sort of patent protection.

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Thanks for the advice :) –  mickburkejnr Feb 5 '11 at 17:53

I believe this is what you're looking for:

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/

I also strongly agree with Steve and Lese.

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