Is it necessary to file for a business license for an online-only business?

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Is it necessary to file for a business license for an online-only business?

I eventually want to open a physical, walk-in business selling gift baskets, baked goods, etc. To gage the probability for success, I wanted to start it online. This would provide a crucial step in setting up my business plan. Is it necessary to acknowledge my business through official channels for a strictly online business?

Asked on May 18, 2012 under Business Law, South Carolina

Answers:

Kenneth Avila / Kenneth Avila, Patent Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Here in California the answer is yes and I strongly suspect that it is the same in your state.  When you start a business there are many legal issues to consider and complete prior to opening, whether on the web or in a physical location.  On the business side you need to form your company (I recommend formation as an LLC), purchase proper insurance, obtain the necessary permits from your city, county, and state officials, contract with suppliers and web designer and web hosting services.  On the Intellectual Property (IP) side you will need to make sure that you will not be infringing on any trademarks (as a web based business infringement will be considered at a national level), setup procedures to take advantage of your state's trade secret laws, and obtain the necessary copyrights to media used on your website and it's design.  

As a registered US Patent and Trademark Office attorney I can assist you with all of your IP issues as these are Federal law issues.  Regardless it is important that you talk with competent attorneys in business and IP law as the cost of "fixing" mistakes made here will be much greater later on.


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