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J.C. Penney Wins Legal Fight Over Martha Stewart


Proof of Martha Stewart's ongoing commercial appeal has been on display in a New York courtroom. Yesterday, an appeals court decided that department store J.C. Penney can continue selling a new line of housewares designed by Stewart. But the ruling keeps Macy's from having the exclusive rights to the brand.

NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: There is one reason why both J.C. Penney and Macy's want Martha Stewart.

MARSHAL COHEN: She's had a history of having success.`

GLINTON: Marshal Cohen is a retail analyst with the NPD Group. He says being allowed to sell Martha Stewart products is a victory for J.C. Penney which has struggled with leadership and strategy in recent years.

COHEN: The reason why those retailers are fighting over her is because it's a well established brand that they can get lots of bang for their buck. She's expensive to have the product programs with, but she returns results.

GLINTON: Cohen says increasingly, having a sure thing like a Martha Stewart brand in your store means more and more to retailers like Macy's or Penneys. Cohen says it's getting hard out there for a department store.

COHEN: Consumers are trading up, trading down, they can buy what they want and when they wanted it, wherever they want it and for almost any price. So getting exclusivity, there would be branding or whether it be product makes a big difference.

GLINTON: Cohen says the same thing Martha Stewart brings to J.C. Penney or Macy's she brings to Match.com, the dating site she recently signed up for.

Even though she's not an official spokesperson, she lends Match.com her air of style, quality, and respectability. So now suitors get to woo Martha - not just department stores.

Sonari Glinton, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sonari Glinton is a NPR Business Desk Correspondent based at our NPR West bureau. He covers the auto industry, consumer goods, and consumer behavior, as well as marketing and advertising for NPR and Planet Money.