Martha Stewart Living brings Macy’s battle to a boil

Media merchandising company says Macy's is using its brand to lure customers into stores, then pushing Macy's private-label products

The bitterness between Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. and Macy’s Inc. is reaching bad-batch-of-rapini proportions. Martha Stewart Living last Friday called out the retailer for its lawsuit against the company and said Macy’s is essentially using Martha Stewart-branded products to help promote its own line of home goods.

Last month, Macy’s filed suit against Martha Stewart Living, claiming that the media merchandising company breached its contract with the department store chain when it entered into an agreement with J.C. Penney Co., which is expected to start selling Martha Stewart Living products in 2013.

On Friday, Martha Stewart Living called Macy’s lawsuit an attempt to “rewrite” the licensing deal between the companies, and that its agreement with J.C. Penney does not breach the existing deal with Macy’s to sell certain merchandise specifically at Macy’s.

"Macy's simply has no exclusive right to [Martha Stewart Living's] creativity or design concepts, now or in the future," the company said.

According to court documents, Macy’s lawyers said the agreement gives it the exclusive right to make and sell Martha Stewart products in certain categories, as well as the right to refuse to make and sell other products within Macy’s product line. Macy’s said it previously had renewed its 2006 pact for Martha Stewart products through 2018.

Martha Stewart Living also lobbed its own bomb at Macy’s in court documents, effectively claiming that the retailer is using the Martha Stewart brand to lure customers into its stores and then making little effort to sell Martha Stewart products over its own private-label brands.

Macy’s had asked New York Supreme Court Justice Jeffery Oing to issue a preliminary injunction against Martha Stewart Living on Feb. 2. The injunction is necessary to prevent Macy’s from “suffering immediate, continuing and incalculable harm as a result of the unexplained and unlawful breach by defendant Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. (MSO) of its exclusive license to Macy’s,” court documents stated.

For more, read Reuters.

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