Midday Market Minute: Macy's Takes J.C. Penney, Martha Stewart to Trial

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Today begins the Crock-pot trial of the century: an attempt by Macy's (M) to block a deal between Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and J.C. Penney (JCP).

Bloomberg reports that Macy's sued Martha Stewart's eponymous lifestyle empire in New York State Supreme Court in January 2012. The country's second-largest department-store chain was trying to prevent the enactment of a pact between Martha Stewart Living and J.C. Penney; Macy's says it holds exclusive rights to sell Stewart-branded bedding, cookware and the like.

Martha StewartIn a pretrial memo, Macy's takes credit for moving the Martha Stewart brand -- "associated with the significantly downscale Kmart" at a time when "Ms. Stewart was just being released from prison" -- and moving it upscale, "a herculean task under the circumstances." Now, Macy's says, Martha Stewart Living and J.C. Penney "seek to reap the rewards of Macy's work and usurp the benefits of Macy's contract."

For its part, Martha Stewart Living claims its products were given the short end of the stick by Macy's in terms of stocking and pricing, which the company says constitutes breach of contract.

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