JCPenney And Macy’s Settle Long-Running Lawsuit Over Martha Stewart Housewares

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

Does it feel like 2012 was very long ago? That’s when JCPenney and Macy’s began their dispute over who has the right to sell Martha Stewart’s branded housewares in their stores. The two chains have finally decided to settle the case, though the terms weren’t disclosed.

Sure, it was over three years ago that we said that the case might finally be over, but we apparently underestimated the extent to which two aging department store empires would fight over the right to sell products using the name of a businesswoman whose name has come to mean “classy domesticity.” The retailers asked the New York State Supreme Court to dismiss the case after they reached an agreement outside of court.

JCPenney had a full line of Martha-branded housewares back then, as the home department of its stores was the only one that CEO Ron Johnson succeeded in making over. Both the Martha Stewart products and the lawsuit stayed with the company longer than Johnson did. The retailers fought over Martha in court for years, even bringing in the actual Martha Stewart to testify.

When the two sides had finally settled, the judge ruled that JCPenney’s introduction of a Martha Stewart housewares line did interfere with the contract Macy’s had had since 2006.

Macy’s still has a full line of Martha-branded housewares, from dishes to sheets, while JCPenney is down to only licensing her name for some curtains. The companies didn’t make the terms of their settlement public: Maybe they’ve decided to just focus separately on saving the entire business model of department stores.