It depends on your business model, and name of your business. If you are doing business under any name other than your own, then at a minimum, you need to file a business with the government in the form of a Limited Liability Company, a Corporations, or a DBA. i.e. if you are Joe Jackson, and you are creating your business as Joe's Jewelry Creations, then you need to register your business in one of the above methods. Otherwise you take the risk that you may not enforce contracts, or use the law to help you if you should have issues with your business.
Also, not filing a business, or only filing a DBA leaves you with personal liability for the businesses legal issues i.e. you have a liability risk. You should consult a business attorney with the details of your business before you start to ensure you are set up correctly, and your personal assets are protected.
This can be handled by a local attorney skilled in small business matters, or you may contact my office for a consultation. We focus our practice on the needs of small businesses and the individuals that run them.
I am an attorney licensed to practice in Texas, Louisiana and before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and the above may not be an accurate assessment of the laws for your area. The above should be taken as general guidance and not specific legal advice. For specific legal advice you should seek a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction practicing in the area specific to your issue. The above does not constitute or establish an attorney client relationship. If you wish to receive specific advice about your legal issue, then contact my office to schedule a personal consultation.
Technically, there is a home business registration process. And depending on the amount of traffic you expect (maybe none?), there are other issues. If you don't have a business entity set up, you should see one of us to get your business arranged properly. It's nothing too difficult or expensive.
I'm not your attorney; my answer to your question includes assumptions. If you want me to be your attorney, I'm easy to find.
Below is a checklist for legal issues I use for new e-commerce clients.
1. Busines entity - Are you going to be a C corp, an LLC or a sole proprietorship?
2. Terms of Service - This is your contract with your visitors and is the most important item for any e-commerce site. A little work here brings big dividends in the future.
4. FTC guidlines - The FTC has been regulating business advertising for almost a century. All of their advertising guidlines apply to e-commerce sites.
5. Trademark - Start with a commmon law trademark "TM" and register your mark if you are successful.
6. Copyright - If it is on the web, it already belongs to somebody. Did you buy a license for the images you are using? Do you have a DMCA notice on your web site?
7. Do you need and have an EIN? You can get that for free.
8. Do you have employees? - If so you need written policies regarding their authority and use of the internet.
9. Do you know the difference between a "browser wrap" and a "click wrap" and which do you need?
When I discuss this list with clients other issues arise. Finally, I always discuss with my clients their need for good accounting services. An accountant's advice as you start up can save you many dollars in tax that you might not save if you wait to speak to an accountant until your first tax return is due.
I hope this list will give you pause to think about those issues for which you might need to seek professional advice.
Please feel free to contact me concerning your issues (No Charge.) I also offer a new client special to perform this work.
Andrew M. Jaffe
Attorney at Law