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Massachusetts Small Business Law

Perhaps you and your family have decided to start up your own small restaurant business in Brockton. You’ve got everyone’s roles in the business figured out—you’ll be the head chef, your sister will manage the business’s finances, and your mother and father will wait tables.

It’s a great idea to start with, but now you’ve got to apply for licenses and permits, find a location, maybe hire a few more staff members and so on. There are so many considerations to make when starting a simple restaurant in Massachusetts!

For business owners in Boston, Worcester or Lowell, it’s important to understand state and federal laws and know how to proceed when a legal issue develops. LawInfo has the Massachusetts small business law information you need from buying a small business to understanding the different business insurance policies available in your state.

Buying a Small Business in Massachusetts

If you’re looking to purchase an existing small business, your goal is probably to buy a business with growth potential. However, that growth potential—and your return on investment—could be jeopardized if you’re not wary of the risks of buying a small business.

Aside from determining a small business’s value and your goals with the business, you should perform your due diligence prior to making a purchasing decision. This means researching and investigating the company’s records, finances, and ongoing or past litigation. You’ll want to find potential red flags in:

  • Tax returns.
  • Licenses and permits.
  • Reports from the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Court reports and lawsuit filings.
  • Zoning requirements.
  • Financial reports.

An attorney and an accountant can gather information on the business to help you determine the risks of purchasing it.

First Steps to Starting a Small Business in Massachusetts

You’ve got an idea for a small business. How do you make that idea a reality? You might benefit from getting training and counseling if this is your first time making a new business. Generally, the first steps to creating a small business in Massachusetts include:

  1. Make a business plan.
  2. Choose a legal structure for your business.
  3. Choose and register your business name.
  4. Find a location that suits your business’s needs and get information on the required safety and zoning codes.
  5. Seek financing if you’re unable to self-finance your business.
  6. Register for federal, state and local taxes, licenses and permits.
  7. Register your new and original business products, services or inventions as intellectual property using trademarks, servicemarks, copyrights or patents.

Massachusetts Intellectual Property

When your small business creates a new or original product, service or invention, you can protect it from your competitors in the U.S. by registering it as an intellectual property. Some intellectual properties like published writing or artwork are automatically protected under U.S. Copyright Law, but registering them with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides you with convincing proof of ownership in a legal dispute.

There are three major types of intellectual property protections, each of which protects specific types of intellectual property:

  • Trademarks/Servicemarks—These protect the unique identifiers of your business’s products or services. Identifiers are names, symbols or other devices. The McDonald’s name and symbol are trademarked because they are used to sell the McDonald’s company’s fast food products.
  • Copyrights—These protect creative works of authorship, including art, music, writing, dance moves/routines, theater productions, etc. The copyright establishes a legal author’s rights to license their work as they see fit and protects them from plagiarism or unauthorized reproduction and distribution.
  • Patents—These protect inventions such as new varieties of plants, patterns and designs, and improvements to existing processes. If you’ve come up with a new and innovative way to improve the production of a particular product, a patent can protect your rights to share that new method with manufacturers.
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