So you already have that million dollar website idea? Could you implement it right away or do you need someone to actually do it.? While you can try to protect your idea by keeping it secret, and need to do so until it is protected by other means (patent, trademark, copyright, contract, etc.) you need to have it "reduced to practice" to protect it. An abstract idea is not enough, it has to have substance.
You need to know whether you can even implement that " big website idea" without infringing on the rights of someone else. There are thousands of website patents and you need to know if one claims what you propose. You need to know if you are using a protected trademark, or if you are using someone else' copyright protected content without proper permission. Clearing those involves a trademark search and copyright search, respectively. Otherwise, you might be selling something you don't own and don't have the right to make, use or sell. That could be disastrous and result in litigation or bad reputation or huge expense, anyone of which could kill your business.
Once you have a concrete idea that you could describe sufficiently to enable someone to reproduce it, then you need to be considering how to acquire intellectual property rights to protect what is at that point now likely an invention. Whether it is patentable is something you need to have a patent attorney check, and to consult with that patent attorney to find out what might be protected and at what cost so you can make a cost-benefit analysis to decide if a patent is worthwhile. You also want to lock in a brand name, and discuss how and when that is done. Often it needs to be done right away, especially if the name is really catchy such that someone else might try to use it without permission. As to copyright, that is automatic under the Copyright Act (17 USC 102), but additional valuable rights of court jurisdiction, statutory damages and attorney fees are obtained by registration of the copyright protection at the US Copyright Office. Use and attorney so it's done right.
Well, if you've done the first three right, you can make some money - capitalize - your intellectual property. The patent will hopefully give you exclusivity while you build up your reputation and with it the value of your trademark. Copyright protection lasts about a century and costs little to acquire, so not only helps give exclusivity early but retains value as the business expands. It's the formula many small startups used to become big companies. Each new product or service might go through the same sort of cycle even if just one product or service of a larger business. Corporate divisions and subsidiaries can help in this to allow different cultures.
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