Commercial Co-Ventures Beware

On July 19, 2018, it was announced that Operation Troop Aid (“OTA”) entered into a settlement with multiple states, including California, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, for participating in an unlawful charitable commercial co-venture with Harris Originals of NY, Inc. (“Harris Jewelry”) a nationwide jewelry retailer for military personnel. In its simplest form, a commercial co-venture is when a for-profit company advertises that the purchase of a product will benefit a charity. Here, Harris Jewelry marketed a campaign called “Operation Teddy Bear,” in which it advertised that it would donate a specific amount of money to OTA when consumers purchased its teddy bears dressed in military uniforms”. Although Harris Jewelry passed along donations to OTA it did not document how the donated amount was calculated, and at times provided different information to consumers as to the amount of money to be donated. OTA…

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