Protecting Yourself From Web Design Copyright Infringement

There are thousands of businesses out there making websites, all trying to create unique designs, logos, videos, text, and images. There is a danger that, when you create a website for your business, your design or logo might resemble that of another business. This could be totally coincidental, but it could still be a serious problem that ends in a copyright infringement claim. How will this affect your business? What steps should you take to protect yourself?

Copyright Laws

copyright logo in black and white with a red exclamation point
Copyright infringement happens when you recreate and display copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright holder.

You want people to notice your website, but what happens if another company notices that your website is similar to theirs? If your logo or design is similar to that of another company, you could face a legal copyright claim from that company. 

Copyright infringement means that a copyrighted work has been recreated and displayed without the permission of the copyright holder. Copyright laws protect creative and intellectual property against anyone copying or stealing the design. Intellectual property that is protected will include the words “all rights reserved” or “copyright.” The laws surrounding intellectual property protect:

  • The automatic right to your creative work from the moment of its creation.
  • The exclusive rights to use, copy, or modify your original content.
  • Any intellectual property without the need for the author, artist, or developer to publish or register their work.

Avoiding Copyright Infringement

If you decide to create your own web design, or hire a web designer to do it for you, you need to familiarize yourself with the laws in order to avoid copyright infringement. Copying a website, whether intentionally or not, will come with consequences. Here is what you can and cannot do:

  • You cannot duplicate copyrighted designs such as images, text, or source code.
  • It is illegal to use someone else’s logo or trademarked material.
  • You are allowed to use inspiration from different sites and incorporate them into your web design (as long as it is not the same exact material).
  • It is legal to recreate designs similar to those on another site using custom code.
  • If you use a website template, there will be thousands of other sites similar to yours and you have no rights to the source code.
  • A custom website gives you ownership of your unique design, and another site cannot legally copy it.illustration of a man with a suit juggling shields and a copyright logo

If the owner of the copyright can show proof of infringement, you will have to pay a penalty for each infringement. This is not the only consequence to copyright infringement: you will also have to pay attorney fees and will suffer damage to your business’ reputation.

Protecting Your Business

Accidents happen, and that could include accidentally copying another person’s design or image. Companies are constantly changing their logos or website designs in order to keep up with what is popular, and you could end up using a similar design or image. Protect yourself with a business owners policy that includes general liability insurance, which will cover your business property and intellectual property. You should also consider a professional liability insurance policy, or errors and omission (E&O) insurance. This will protect you from copyright infringement, covering:

  • Court costs
  • Legal fees
  • Damages
  • Alleged or actual negligence
  • Personal injury costs

Creating a website is vital for your business, but it can be difficult to create a design that does not seem similar to that of the thousands of other sites on the internet. The best thing you can do is protect your business and its reputation with the right commercial insurance policy. EZ.Insure understands just how important it is to protect your business from claims, as well as your designs from copyright infringement. We work with the top-rated insurance companies in the country in order to compare quotes and find the best plan for your business. To get free instant quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to one of our trained, licensed agents, call 888-615-4893.

Sole Proprietor Participation in HRAs

Employers who have trouble providing their employees with a traditional group health insurance plan sometimes turn to health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) to help. HRAs are not health insurance, they are employer-funded accounts approved by the IRS that help employees pay for qualified out-of-pocket medical expenses. They can also help pay for their individual health insurance plan’s premiums. illustration of a silhouette of a man with silhuoette of many people on the other side and a hand holding dollar bills in between themHRAs work through a reimbursement system. Employers offer employees a monthly allowance of tax-free money that they can use to pay for healthcare services, including health insurance, and then the employer reimburses them up to their allowance amount. But what if you’re a sole proprietor? You can offer this arrangement to any employees you have, but can you participate in the savings from an HRA yourself?  In short, generally no, but there is a way you might be able to!

HRA Rules

Offering an HRA is a great way to help pay for your employees’ healthcare costs; these arrangements give you more control over how much you’re spending, and can help to lower your healthcare costs. HRAs only need to be funded when employees who participate in them incur expenses, and not all employees who participate will incur expenses up to the limit established by the employer. Any unused funds in the HRA stay with you, the employer. 

There are also tax advantages to HRAs: any reimbursements made to your employees are tax deductible for you and tax-free for your employees. HRAs are only available to:

  • Current and former employees, and their spouses.
  • Covered tax dependents.
  • Children who will not be 27 years old by the end of the tax year.

    caucasian man looking down at his laptop with his hand to his forehead
    Unfortunately the IRS does not separate you and your business, which makes you ineligible to participate in an HRA. 

Sole Proprietorship

As a sole proprietor, according to the IRS, there is no separation between you and your business. The Internal Revenue Code Section (IRC) 401(c) determines that owners who are self-employed individuals are not considered employees. This makes them ineligible to participate in a HRA. Ineligible owners include partners, sole proprietors, and more-than-2% shareholders in a Subchapter S corporation. 


If you are married and your spouse is listed as a W-2 employee at your business, then there is a way for you to get a HRA, and enjoy all of its tax benefits. To work around the rule set by the IRS, you can set up a HRA in your spouse’s name and list yourself as a dependent of your spouse. However, this will only work if you don’t hire any other W-2 employees who would be eligible for either an ICHRA, QSEHRA or a One-Person 105 HRA. What you can do is:

  1. Hire your spouse as a W-2 employee, and make their salary the amount you want to reimburse through the HRA.
  2. Make your spouse the primary policy holder on your family health insurance plan.
  3. Become a dependent on your spouse’s health insurance plan.
  4. Set up a One-Person 105 HRA, ICHRA, or QSEHRA for your spouse. Consider:
    • The One-Person 105 option if you have medical expenses or other employees that are excludable under the rules.
    • A QSEHRA if your health expenses are less than the reimbursement limit under the QSEHRA rules.
    • An ICHRA if the reimbursement limit of a QSEHRA is too restrictive, since there are no limits on ICHRA contributions.invoice of a medical bill
  5. Save all of your medical bills so your company can reimburse them each month from a separate account. 

Get Help

To make sure that you are following the rules laid out by the IRS properly, it would be wise to speak with an insurance agent. EZ’s agents are highly trained and knowledgeable in the group health insurance industry, and can help you determine if participating in an HRA is possible for you. To find out if you are eligible, and to compare plans in your area for free, enter your ZIP code in the bar above, or to speak directly to an agent, call 888-998-2027.