Thursday, June 23, 2011

Connecticut Amends Its Affiliate Nexus Law To Mirror Illinois

We have written frequently in recent months about affiliate nexus legislation introduced this legislative session in a number of states, and enacted recently in Illinois, Arkansas, Connecticut and, on a deferred basis (to take effect only after 15 states have adopted similar legislation) Vermont. (A similar bill has been passed in California, but has not yet been signed by Governor Brown.) Nearly every such bill has closely paralleled the affiliate nexus law adopted in New York in 2008, which provides for a presumption of nexus that can be rebutted by a retailer if the retailer can establish that its in-state affiliates have not engaged in any active solicitation in the state, but have merely posted online advertisements on behalf of the retailer that link to the retailer’s website. Illinois was the only state to adopt a law without such a rebuttable presumption.

The Connecticut legislature has now amended the affiliate nexus statute it passed in May 2011, to eliminate the rebuttable presumption and, instead, to closely mirror the Illinois law. Connecticut HB 6652, signed by Governor Malloy on June 21, repeals the affiliate nexus statute adopted in May, and instead modifies the definition of “retailer” (as well as the definition of “engaged in business in the state”) to classify as a Connecticut retailer any company that has affiliate relationships with persons in Connecticut pursuant to which the affiliates refer customers to the retailer in return for commissions or other consideration based on sales, via an online link or otherwise. The retailer must realize cumulative gross receipts of at least $2,000 on sales to Connecticut customers as a result of such referrals in order to be “engaged in business in the state.” In addition, HB 6652 makes the change in the definitions of “retailer” and “engaged in business” retroactive to May 4, 2011 – prior to the date on which the previously enacted affiliate nexus law was even adopted.

It warrants mention that the Connecticut legislature amended its affiliate nexus statute after the Performance Marketing Association filed suit in federal court in Chicago challenging the constitutionality of the Illinois law. Brann & Isaacson represents the PMA in that action.

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