Are you planning to become the next big e-commerce startup? Have you finally decided to embark on the journey of realizing your entrepreneurial dream? If so, there are some legal aspects you will need to take into consideration to avoid potential legal issues down the road. This article will discuss 3 common mistakes Canadian e-commerce startups make.

Not Understanding Sales Tax

When you sell products or services online, there are certain tax implications that apply. You must make sure you become educated on which taxes you need to collect for sales outside your province.

It’s recommended to research tax laws for each province you do business but in general, if you are selling good and services in Alberta you need to collect GST.  If you are selling goods and sevices out of the country you do not charge GST.  If you are selling goods and services to other provinces it varies.  Here are the list of taxes you should be collecting and submitting as of 2015

Provice Tax Rate
BC GST 5% and 7% PST
Alberta GST 5%
Saskatchewan GST 5% and 5% PST voluntarily
Manitoba GST 5% and 7% PST
Ontario Ontario – HST – 13%
Quebec Quebec – GST 5% and QST (Quebec Sales Tax) 9.975%
New Brunswick New Brunswick – HST 13%
Nova Scotia Nova Scotia – HST 15%
Newfoundland & Labrador Newfoundland & Labrador – HST 13%
Prince Edward Island Prince Edward Island – HST 14%
Northwest Territories Northwest Territories – GST 5%
Nunavut Nunavut – GST 5%
Yukon Yukon – GST 5%

Failing To Protect Your Intellectual Property

If you are an online business, it is important to do your due diligence when comes to protecting your intellectual property. Failing to do this could allow other companies to steal your work and hijack your brand without you having any legal recourse.

There are two types of intellectual property that you will likely need to protect. Obtaining copyright and trademark rights over your intellectual property can be done by filing the appropriate paperwork with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

Copyrights protect original works of authorship. This can include videos, audio, and even mobile apps. If your business has created a mobile app, it is very possible that you will need to register it as a copyright to prevent anyone else from using your creation without your permission.

Trademark rights protect any slogan, symbol, or business name that is used to brand your company. Obtaining trademark rights will make it much easier to protect your brand.

While obtaining trademark rights and copyrights don’t automatically keep others from stealing your intellectual property, they do give you much more legal standing in a court of law.

If someone infringes on your trademark or copyright and it is registered with the appropriate government agency, you greatly increase the chances that you will be able to use the legal system to make them stop, or gain compensation.

Neglecting Your Terms And Conditions & Privacy Policy

Operating an online business means that you need to make sure you post notices on your website that inform the customer of your policies. This will help protect in the event that a customer is unhappy with your service.

Terms and conditions let the customer know your policies for refunds, returns, credit card use, etc. Basically, this lets the customer know what to expect when they purchase from your company.

The privacy policy informs the customer of how their personal information will and will not be used. It also details what type of information you will need to collect in order to do business.

Having these in place will not only help your customer, it will also help you protect your small business.

Starting an online business from Calgary is exciting and can be greatly rewarding. Make sure you are diligent about keeping up with the legal side of the business to make sure you don’t run into any troubles.

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