Dinn, Hochman & Potter, LLC

Court denies Macy's an injunction in Martha Stewart, JCP dispute

The Cincinnati-based retail giant Macy's is embroiled in a contract dispute over goods bearing the name of Martha Stewart. Macy's says that it has a long-standing contract with Ms. Stewart for exclusive rights to sell the goods. However, J.C. Penney wants to sell the line of goods designed by the famed entrepreneur. Earlier this month, JCP reportedly began selling the line of home products, including cookware, bedding and more that were designed by Ms. Stewart as the contract litigation proceeds in court.

Macy's sought to halt the sale of the goods while the lawsuit remains pending. However, a New York appeals court handed Macy's a temporary blow Tuesday when the court refused to grant the retail giant a temporary injunction barring JCP from selling the goods while the legal issues remain in court.

Generally, any successful business relies upon contracts in many different areas of business law. Contracts with vendors, for instance, are very important concepts to protect a company's interests. A business may also have contracts with employees. The general legal principles of contract law are important in each area. But, the issues may vary widely from area to area, and a contact must be drafted to address the specific issues involved. There really is no one-size-fits all contract.

In the current Macy's litigation, the dispute essentially involves the interplay between contract law and other business law issues. Macy's says that it has an exclusive contract with Martha Stewart. She disagrees, saying her relationship does not provide exclusivity, which led to the recent issues involving Macy's and JCP.

The recent appellate ruling does not end the litigation. The recent issue involved a temporary conjunction, which Macy's had hoped would protect interests until the issues in the overall business litigation are resolved. A trial court judge previously refused to dismiss the exclusivity issue, and that dispute remains pending in court.

Source: The Cleveland Plain Dealer, "Macy's loses appeal on Martha Stewart goods," Associated Press, April 30, 2013  CBS News, "Judge won't dismiss Macy's claim in Martha Stewart trial," April 11, 2013

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