Saturday, January 20, 2018
Business

Penney gets temporary go-ahead to sell some Martha Stewart-designed items

NEW YORK — J.C. Penney Co. can sell some home goods designed by Martha Stewart that were destined for shelves in May — for now, a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled Friday.

Rival department store chain Macy's had sought to temporarily block Penney from selling products designed by Martha Stewart under the name JCP Everyday. Macy's argued that the products violate its exclusive contract with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia — even if they don't carry the moniker.

Friday's ruling lets Penney sell the JCP Everyday goods, until a lawsuit that Macy's is waging against Penney and Martha Stewart Living is fully decided. Macy's said in a statement that it plans to appeal the ruling.

Judge Jeffrey Oing also cautioned that the ruling is preliminary and Penney could still face costly damages if Macy's prevails in the case.

"This decision has not been very easy to make," said Oing, who heard arguments from both sides for nearly three hours before he made his ruling.

The two retailers are locked in a court battle over a partnership with Martha Stewart. Macy's, headquartered in Cincinnati, is suing Martha Stewart for breaching a long-standing exclusive contract that it had with the New York merchandising and media company in certain goods like bedding and bath items when it made a deal in late 2011 with Penney to open Martha Stewart mini-shops in the stores. The Martha Stewart shops, which have now been shelved, were planned for this spring. It also sued Penney for having no regard for the contract.

A temporary order made last summer still bars Penney from selling Martha Stewart-branded goods in the exclusive product categories. But Macy's had argued that selling the JCP Everyday goods, which included items covered by the contract, would confuse customers and create harm to Macy's. Macy's attorneys also argued that the new JCP Everyday brand, which carries a double house logo that resembles the letter "M," would give shoppers the idea that the merchandise was from Martha Stewart.

Oing said Friday that Macy's didn't prove irreparable harm. Macy's may face some financial pressure but "it's not like a building torn down," he said.

However, he warned Penney lawyers to stay away from using the Martha Stewart name in advertising or marketing when it comes to the products covered by the contract.

"You are to stay away from the Martha Stewart brand and label at all costs," he warned.

Penney could face a $100 million hit if it had to liquidate the JCP Everyday inventory that it already purchased, according to Deborah Weinswig, an analyst at Citi Research.

Penney is going ahead and adding Martha Celebrations areas, which will feature party accessories and stationery designed by the home maven. Those items are not covered by Macy's exclusive contract, though Macy's attorneys argued this week that some items like plastic pitchers violate the exclusive contract.

Comments
Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

The state has opened an investigation into CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, days after the Tampa Bay Times asked about whether the two regional job centers were inflating the number of people they had helped get hired. The agencies, ...
Published: 01/19/18
Tech firm TranferWise moves to Ybor City, illustrating a new chapter in Tampa’s business history

Tech firm TranferWise moves to Ybor City, illustrating a new chapter in Tampa’s business history

TAMPA — You could sketch an economic history of the city of Tampa — and maybe get a glimpse of its future — just by looking at the old J. Seidenberg & Co./Havana-American Cigar Factory.It opened in 1894, making it Ybor City’s second-oldest brick ciga...
Published: 01/19/18

Want to buy into an exchanged-traded bitcoin fund? You might have a long wait

NEW YORK — It may be a while, if ever, before investors can buy an exchange-traded fund made up of bitcoin and other digital currencies. Federal regulators have a long list of questions they want answered before they’ll approve a digital currency fun...
Published: 01/19/18
Child psychologist weighs in on mom who charges 5-year-old ‘rent’

Child psychologist weighs in on mom who charges 5-year-old ‘rent’

A Georgia mother has gone viral for charging her 5-year-old "rent." Yup — the kid pays up for food, water, cable and electric, too.Essense Evans described in a Facebook post how she handles her daughter’s allowance. The post, written on Saturday, was...
Published: 01/19/18

Addicted to your smartphone? Now there’s an app for that

Did you text? Sorry, I can’t see messages right now. Arianna Huffington locked my phone.The media tycoon turned wellness entrepreneur wants to keep you out of your phone, too, with a new app called Thrive. Its goal is to make it cool for a generation...
Published: 01/19/18
Proposed monument near St. Pete pier would honor Tony Jannus history-making flight

Proposed monument near St. Pete pier would honor Tony Jannus history-making flight

ST. PETERSBURG — Tony Jannus’s history-making flight in an early seaplane — simultaneously as ungainly and graceful as a pelican on the wing — is what Mayor Rick Kriseman calls an "under-told and under-appreciated" story, but a team of local history ...
Published: 01/19/18
Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — The newest hope for transportation in the Tampa Bay area is a bus rapid transit system projected to cover the 41-miles separating St. Petersburg from Wesley Chapel and attract 4,500 new riders at a fraction of the cost of light rail....
Published: 01/19/18
Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

ST. PETERSBURG — Transportation planners on Friday unveiled a new transit vision for Tampa Bay leaders on Friday morning: Bus rapid transit.Also known as BRT, it has arisen as the leading option in an ongoing study to find the best regional transit p...
Published: 01/19/18
Amazon boosts monthly Prime membership fees by 20 percent

Amazon boosts monthly Prime membership fees by 20 percent

NEW YORK — Amazon is raising the price of its Prime membership monthly plan by nearly 20 percent. The fee of $99 for an annual membership will not change, the company said Friday. The online retailer had added the monthly payment option about two yea...
Published: 01/19/18
Cuba’s tourism is booming despite Trump’s tougher policy

Cuba’s tourism is booming despite Trump’s tougher policy

HAVANA — On a sweltering early summer afternoon in Miami’s Little Havana, President Donald Trump told a cheering Cuban-American crowd that he was rolling back some of Barack Obama’s opening to Cuba in order to starve the island’s military-run economy...
Published: 01/19/18