BOSTON — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit hassided with a mall owner who sells gift cards issued by Bank ofAmerica and against the State of New Hampshire, ruling that thesale of the cards issued by a national bank is not subject to NewHampshire's law governing gift certificates and gift cards.

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According to media reports and court documents, the disputepitted the Simon Property Group, a nationwide shopping mall firm,against the state over whether its cards issued by Bank of Americacould be regulated by the State gift certificate law. The law holdsthat gift cards are gift certificates and those gift certificatescannot expire or depreciate in value.

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The Simon cards lose $2.50 per month in administrative feesstarting six months after issuance and can expire after one year.Gift card proponents have argued that similar administrative feearrangements and policies are necessary to keep the productsprofitable.

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In his decision, U.S. District Judge Steven McAuliffe held thatregulating Simon's Bank of America card, “as well as those of thecontractual agreement between purchasers of the gift card and theissuing bank,” are matters for federal authority. Any limitationsand fees would have to come from Congress or other federal agenciesempowered to oversee national banks, he said and he urged Congressto visit the issue. – [email protected]

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