Patent rights existed even in Ancient Greece. Evidence shows that creators of culinary dishes were considered patent owners for the recipes in the city of Sybaris. In 14th century England, sovereigns issued the Letters Patent to those who petitioned for their inventions.
These early beginnings appeared in similar forms in other countries throughout Europe. The English legal system created grounds for the modern patent law at the global level. It spread to the colonies in New Zealand and Australia, as well as the United States. Samuel Winslow was the first person to receive a patent right for the process of making salt in the US in 1641.
Patenting usually comes to mind when you want to protect your business. This refers to intellectual property and technology. Considering how website ideas have in the past brought fame and considerable money to their inventors, it’s normal that you want to protect yours. Therefore, here are some pointers on how to do that.
The definition of “website”
Before you start thinking about the patent, you should check the definition of the website. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “a group of World Wide Web pages usually containing hyperlinks to each other and made available online by an individual, company, educational institution, government, or organisation.”
Similarly, Wikipedia offers more details: “A website is a collection of related web pages, including multimedia content, typically identified with a common domain name, and published on at least one web server. A website may be accessible via a public Internet Protocol (IP) network, such as the Internet, or a private local area network (LAN), by referencing a uniform resource locator (URL) that identifies the site.”
However, both mean that the website consists of several elements and some might be eligible for a patent, like software for example. Software patents are considered typical patent applications and thus have to pass the appropriate test. It’s important to know that a source code or computer program code are not covered by the law. It actually covers the methods and stages the program or interface use.
Since you will probably be asked to bring evidence of the methodology, make sure that you keep drawings, diagrams and steps on record and ready to present before a commission.
Ways to protect your website idea
“A trademark is used to distinguish your goods and services from those of another business,” states the Australian Government agency for intellectual property. As a business, your registered trademark will be filed under “marketing tool.” Thus registered, the trademark will give you the legal protection of your brand. Namely, it will prevent others from using it without previous agreements with you.
Examples of trademarks are Google and Facebook. They both have recognisable visual features like websites and logos, which distinguish them from others. By registering your trademark, you will also be protected from competitors. The earlier you register the trademark the better, since it will allow your website to grow and be developed further.
You can register one design, a single design relating to many products or multiple designs by filing an application with the Designs Office of IP Australia. They will assess your design application and decide whether it is in conformity with the legislation.
Your website may contain information which you must protect from your competitors. This includes confidential employee information, strategies and website structure. These are known as trade secrets. In order to protect them, you will have to sign non-disclosure agreements with the third parties.
The same will apply to your employees so you can prevent the selling and disclosing of trade secrets. You will have to insert confidentiality and non-compete clauses in their agreements. Additionally, these will also prevent your ex-employees to become your competitors.
Once you publish your website, it’s automatically copyrighted. In Australia, there is no specific registration process for copyright. However, there may be some exclusion as to what is covered under copyright so you should consult solicitors and lawyers before publishing the website. There are a number of international conventions which will grant you global copyright protection. Ask at the IP Australia Office for further details and specifications on this matter.
If you want to build a successful brand and create your ideas, you first have to examine all the legislative requirements to protect yourself. This is the age of technology and information travels fast. This may seem like planning too far ahead, but actually, it will save you from the trouble and problems later.
About the Author:
David Koller is a passionate blogger and copywriter for Media Gurus, mainly interested in SEO and Digital Marketing.