Q: Is my business website considered my intellectual property?
A: Dear Concerned:
Your website is most certainly intellectual property (IP). But whether or not it’s your IP depends on whether or not you were the one who originally created the website.
When it comes to IP, patents protect inventions, trademarks protect brand names, and copyrights protect a wide range of original creative work, including literary, musical, dramatic, and artistic works, among others.
So all elements of your website—written content, photos, graphics, audio, video, and the underlying computer code—are IP eligible for copyright protection. The only elements not subject to copyright are the domain name and the website’s title.
If you, or one of your employees, are the website’s original creator, then you own the IP, and you’ll want to secure a copyright for the website with the U.S. Copyright Office. But if you hired an independent contractor to create the website—or any of its elements—and don’t have the correct legal agreements in place, you may not own the website’s IP.
Protecting your IP is one reason why having the proper agreements in place is so critical whenever you work with contractors. You can secure ownership of the work contractors create for you by adding work-for-hire clauses into their agreements.
As your Creative Business Lawyer®, we can help you navigate intellectual property law and create solid agreements when working with contractors.