Knowing how to patent a website name is important for business owners who want to protect their brand and reduce the chance of others profiting off their name. A company's website is one of its most valuable assets and is used for:

  • Marketing.
  • Sales.
  • Customer Service.

Your website is a vital part of your intellectual property, and it should be protected as such. Items that you should make sure to protect include:

  • Your domain name.
  • Your logo.
  • Your graphics and images.

What Is a Website?

The U.S. Copyright Office defines a webpage as a set of interconnected pages inclusive of a homepage that resides on the same computer or server and is maintained by a person, group or organization.

What Is Copyrighted on a Website?

Copyright laws only extend protection to original works that are that are fixed as a tangible means of expression. A website can fall under this protection as it is work that is clearly described, original, and owned by the applicant. Though the copyright protection only extends to the content that is on the website.

Copyright protection also extends material that is perceptible to users which includes almost everything found on a website including:

  • Articles.
  • Literature.
  • Blogs.
  • Music.
  • Podcasts.
  • Webinars.
  • Games.
  • Video.

It is important to note that the copyright protection only includes content that was present at the time of registration. Content that was added later or updated will need to have its own registration to ensure protection.

There are a few items that are commonly found on a website that you cannot copyright. For example, you cannot copyright:

  • Links since they do not reside on your website.
  • Work that is considered public domain.
  • User-generated content that has been put on your site such as reviews and comments.
  • Ideas or plans for future websites.
  • Domain names, hyperlink text, layouts, or formats of the site,
  • Material that is considered common unoriginal or familiar.

Who Owns the Website?

It is always important to determine who actually owns the content of the website. For example, if you have an employee designing your site or creating your content, the company would own that content as you employ them to do the job.

If you hire a third party or independent contractor to create your website and pay them to do it, that would be considered a work for hire. This means that the independent contractor technically owns the content and you will need to come up with an agreement where your company will have the exclusive rights to use. Having a hosting company for your website will not affect copyright issues.

Copyright protection begins the minute the website content is launched and made public though it is advisable to take a few additional steps to ensure it is properly protected. To do this, you can include a copyright notice on each page. It can be a simple footer that reads Copyright 2015-2018 ABC Company.

You can also register your website with the U.S. Copyright Office. This registration should be filed under the "other digital content" category. Since filing for a copyright to a website can be somewhat complicated, so it is recommended to consult with an attorney before doing so.

If you have a website that is constantly adding new content or has content that updates on a regular basis, you may choose to not register your copyright. In this case, your website is still protected by the copyright notice on each page as long as it is kept up to date.

Is a Blog a Website?

A blog is a website that is made up of original content either added by you or other employees of your business. You have the right to copyright and protect your content on your blog in the same ways as a website, by adding a copyright notice at the bottom of each page.

How to Protect Your Domain Name

It is important that your business not only owns the content on the website, but also the domain name it uses. Your domain name is the unique way in which your website is identified on the internet. Every domain name is unique and cannot be duplicated so when you register your domain name, you will have exclusive rights to use it.

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