Intellectual property (IP) rights in the design industry are made up of a number of legal protection elements and a business should be aware of them and how they work. The Intellectual Property Office defines IP as “any form of original creation that can be bought or sold – from music to machinery. The four main types of IP rights are patents, trade marks, designs and copyright but there are many other ways to protect your IP.”
Websites in particular are open to theft of images and content and websites are also very easy to copy so it is important to understand your rights and what elements of your website can be protected. Copyright applies to websites in the same way as material in any other media. As an example any photographs used on the internet will be protected the same way as other artistic works. Here are some of the measures you can take to protect your website:
Register trademarks / brand – A trade mark is a sign which can distinguish your goods and services from those of your competitors and can be words, logos or a combination of the two.
Register a domain name – the domain name should be user friendly and reflect your trademark and business name. The domain name may also be registered as a trademark, and in doing this you would strengthen your power to enforce rights against someone else who tries to register the same name as a trademark.
Patent online business methods – business method patents are a class of patents which disclose and claim new methods of doing business including e-commerce, banking and insurance. By patenting your business method you as the owner have the right to prevent others from making, using, importing or selling the invention without permission.
Register in other countries – Copyright is a legal notion which is endorsed by most governments and to protect your website you may register it and copyright material in other countries that provide the option to do so.
Enforce a confidentiality agreement – to protect disclosure of business information by employees, website hosts, internet providers etc… you can enforce a confidentiality / non-disclosure agreement which will bind relevant parties by a legal contract.
Consider an insurance policy– Intellectual property insurance protects companies against copyright, trademark or patent infringement claims. The insurance will pay out defense costs and any judgment up to the policy limits. There are two types of IP insurance coverage available. The first protects if you are sued for infringement and funds a legal defense. The second is called a ‘pursuit’ policy and it helps pay the legal expenses of suing an alleged infringe.
If you find that another website has been copying your work here is a good fact sheet to help you find a resolution.