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What's your favorite search engine? If you're a fan of CBS' legal drama "The Good Wife" it's ChumHum.

Chumhum logo The Good Wife CBS
Since ChumHum is not real, the AP Stylebook hasn't ruled on how it is to be written. It's shown up in various publications and on myriad websites as chumhum, Chumhum, Chum Hum and, my preference, ChumHum.

The Googlesque company has been a recurring client for the fictional firm of Lockhart Gardner as a way to explore ripped (off) from the headlines story lines.

ChumHum has played a key role in the show's second season (2011) in examining the legal intricacies of Internet companies that provide oppressive governments with users' information, as well as serving earlier this fall as a story hook for looking at National Security Agency spying on private citizens and companies.

The fictional Internet giant was back Sunday night (Oct. 27), this time with art -- well, television -- imitating real tax life.

Story recap and spoiler alert: The short version (quit reading now if you DVRed the show and not yet watched it) is that ChumHum was key in the battle between Lockhart Gardner and the newly formed Florrick Agos, comprised mainly of fourth-year associates led by the titular Alicia Florrick and Cary Agos as they break from L/G.

The split was forced in last night's "Hitting the Fan" episode, with both sides trying to figure out how to ensure their respective firms survive the corporate rupture. Bottom line, whoever gets ChumHum will have the cash cow client needed to stay financially afloat.

ChumHum's arrogant founder Neil Gross vacillated, but finally decided to go with the new firm ... after Alicia's husband, Illinois Governor-elect Peter Florrick, issued a not-so-veiled threat during a televised press conference of the possibility that the state could impose a tax on Internet firms.

By opting for legal representation from the gov's wife's new firm, Gross hopes to prevent or at least shape any tax legislation.

Sound familiar?

Real, contested Illinois Internet tax: The best and really fun part of all this, as noted here on the ol' blog last week, is that in real life Illinois' high court just tossed out the state's so-called Amazon tax.

The Illinois law was modeled after New York's legislation. Both said that the states could require businesses to collect state sales tax on purchases made by residents in their jurisdictions even if the companies did not have a physical presence there.

The Illinois and New York laws relied on companies' marketing/sales affiliations with online associates based in the states.

The affiliate justification for state sales tax collection goes beyond what has long been cited as the legal basis for taxation, a company's physical presence, or nexus. That was the decision in 1992 by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Quill v. North Dakota.

While Illinois jurists said no to the affiliate rationale for sales tax collection, New York's high court upheld that state's similar law.

Those opposing appellate decisions mean that the ultimate word on state sales taxes and online commerce likely will come from another Supreme Court ruling.

When that happens, I'll be waiting for the "The Good Wife" writers to bring back ChumHum yet again and weave the justices' decision into another script.

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