>>Does anybody have a quick answer to what protection i have legally over the image of my site and the business idea in itself?
Macbeth, I would probably register a copyright for (both) the website, and any custom programming code utilized. As far as protecting your 'idea,' that is more along the lines of a patent than a copyright - which is unlikely you would be able to get.
If you are in the U.S. (and I believe in the UK as well), there is what is called a 'provisional patent' that allows you to efficiently file for a patent (about $200) and place 'patent pending' on the site to scare away a few prospective offenders. (a provisional patent is only good for 1 year and offers very little 'real' protection without further patent filings and substantial added costs).
Unfortunately - regardless of the protection - if you are successful, then I'm certain there will be many 'knockoffs' to contend with in the future.
I have a little experience in patents. I do not believe a patent would cover this. The only possible patent you could receive is a design patent and these are almost worthless in my opinion. You could change a little something here and there and have a totally different patent. I own a utility patent, and this type is one of the strongest type you can get. You should check into copyrighting your site. Possibly even trademark. Go to [uspto.gov...] Not trying to spam, but my site deals with patent and trademarks. <snip> Good Luck, Cindy
[edited by: trillianjedi at 11:05 am (utc) on Feb. 25, 2005] [edit reason] No self-promotional posts please - thanks [/edit]