This isn't the forum for this sort of question, but I thought I would give it a shot anyway to see if anyone could direct me to the information I need.
I'm in the IT world (web design/development, user interface, etc.) and I've been developing an idea for a website that I have no doubt would seriously take off, if done right. It's one of those ideas that's so obviously useful that people will wonder what took it so long to emerge, and I guarantee people out there are already thinking about it so I'm working against the clock.
There is a website out there now that's somewhat similar to what I have in mind, but in an extremely rudimentary form. It's being done by a group of people as a whim and they're clearly missing the big picture (in fact they sabotage the potential of the idea in many ways). It's also pretty bad, from a design and usability standpoint, so unless they improve it in the future it won't take off.
I feel like I have to carry out this idea (call it an epiphany) to avoid kicking myself for the rest of my life when I watch someone else make millions on their own execution of it. Whoever makes it happen won't be the people I've mentioned anyway, unless they "get it" and hire the right people to overhaul it.
So I'm wondering if anyone sees any legal dangers here. My site will necessarily resemble this other person's site in many ways. Even though I had the idea independently and found their site in my subsequent research on it, they might be able to claim that I ripped them off.
Do I need legal protection here? Or does this scenario just go by the law of the jungle, and whoever comes out on top gets the spoils?