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Martha Stewart Living settles business litigation with Macy's

It is one of the perks of being a celebrity. You become famous, and then companies want you to endorse their products or carry a line of your items in their stores. It may come with big paychecks, your name posted throughout their stores, and hopefully a successful partnership. Unfortunately, if you are not absolutely clear on the deals you negotiate, disputes can arise that lead to business litigation.

Those business disputes are just the type of issues that were heard recently in a New York Supreme Court case involving Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. and Macy’s Inc. Macy’s accused Martha Stewart Living of having committed a breach of contract when it entered into a separate deal allowing the sale of Martha Stewart products at J.C. Penney Co. The specifics of the settlement were not disclosed when the settlement was made. The settlement does not affect a separate claim that Macy’s has made against J.C. Penney.

Creating exclusive agreements is a relatively common occurrence in the business world. Macy’s argued it was granted exclusive rights to the sale of certain lines of Stewart products within its stores. J.C. Penney said it would adjust its deal with Martha Stewart Living, likely in response to the dispute between the parties. One change will end Penney’s agreement with Stewart in 2017 instead of 2021.

The reasons behind the breach of contract are not clear. Perhaps wording and intention were misunderstood. Whether a large corporation or a small local business is involved in a dispute, it is imperative to obtain a complete understanding of a contract before signing. On top of that, it may be beneficial for a business to have an attorney review existing contracts before entering into new ones. It may help avoid unintentional but costly mistakes.

Source: nj.com, “Martha Stewart, Macy’s settle breach-of-contract claims,” Jan. 2, 2014

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