Britton Law, P.A.
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Even in the Wild West e-commerce realm there are laws

Getting the right structure for your North Carolina business is something anyone starting a new enterprise needs to pay attention to. There are a lot of different types of ownership, as we noted in a post last week. You can go the relatively easy route of launching a sole proprietorship or go for deeper forms of liability protection that come with different types of partnerships or corporate structures.

Another thing you have to decide is whether you will limit your offerings for sale through only a brick and mortar outlet. It might do to offer products online. You might want to forego brick and mortar altogether and just conduct your business through the e-commerce channel. And if you go that route, you might find yourself conducting business on an international scale.

Regardless of how you choose to generate your revenue, you will want to be sure that you make sure your startup business meets the law's requirements. The rules that apply to traditional retail are not necessarily the same as those for business through something like eBay. Here are some important things to keep in mind in the e-commerce market.

Make sure your business name is yours alone. Check with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. If your desired name is already taken and you go ahead with it you could wind up being sued. By creating an original name and registering it properly you can protect yourself.

Obtain the necessary licenses. If you sell food, weapons, alcohol or tobacco, special state and/or federal licenses might be required. Operating without them could result in fines and other costs, including a temporary shutdown of your business.

Even if you don't need a license, you likely need a seller's permit. If the product is tangible and is sold or leased, a seller's permit will probably be required.

Pay your taxes. If sales taxes are levied, plan to pay them. Charge them to your customers or plan to pay them yourself. And don't forget that revenue earned is reportable income.

If you have any doubt whether your operation is legal or not, the best way to be sure is to consult with an experienced business attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "5 Steps to Keep Your eBay Business Legal," Le Trinh, Esq. July 17, 2015

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