The three weeks that New York Supreme Court Judge Jeffrey Oing set aside to address Macy's Inc.'s and J.C. Penney Co. Inc.'s dispute over selling Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. merchandise came to a close yesterday, and the parties still couldn't reach a settlement. So Oing "called for a period of mediation." (Sadly, not meditation, as we originally read it.) Martha, Macy's, and Penneys have another month to come to an agreement or it's back to trial, and until the April 8 deadline, Penneys plans to keep M. Stew's products off its shelves.
Oing told WWD he "won't have a hard time deciding this case" if forced to. It initially looked like the odds were in Macy's favor — the department store won a preliminary injunction in July that prevented J.C. Penney from stocking Stewart's line, but, as the trade writes:
It "may well be that" Macy's is "prevailing on some proverbial battles but ultimately that is no guarantee that you are winning the war in this case," he told counsel for Macy's.
According to WWD, as J.C. Penney's counsel stuck around for Oing's decision, they "chatted about living in Los Angeles and the coyote problem there. One Penney's lawyer recounted that his small dog had been eaten by a coyote." He said, "There are three things to fear in life: earthquakes, skin cancer and coyotes." Suddenly, we understand why mediation is punishment enough.