The department store chain has been advertising its business on the billboard above its Herald Square store for almost 60 years.
But Macy's said that when it tried to negotiate a lease renewal this year, the billboard's owners, the Kaufman Organization, told them they were in discussions with a "prominent online retailer," and there was "little doubt" that meant Amazon, according to the lawsuit.
On Wednesday, Macy’s released this statement: "Since the early 1960s, Macy’s has placed a billboard sign on the building adjacent to our flagship store at the corner of Broadway and 34th Street. Macy’s continues to have rights relating to advertisements at that location. We expect to realize the benefits of these rights and have asked the court to protect them. As the matter is in litigation, the company will not have any further comment."
The lawsuit pointed out that the billboard is highly visible in its annual Thanksgiving Day parade, which is nationally televised.
Marc J. Gross, a business attorney not involved in the lawsuit says, "Macy’s is alleging that there was a contract with the defendant that goes way back to 1963 where the party’s made an agreement that Macy’s will be the only retailer or seller that will be permitted to advertise on the billboard."
Macy’s is not seeking any damages in the lawsuit but says any advertisements from its online competitor would cause "immeasurable" harm to its business.
"Usually when a party files a lawsuit it is to get money from someone. That is not what Macy’s is doing here. It’s looking for an injunction and to stop the defendant from advertising or leasing that sign from someone who might impinge on what Macy’s feel is its right," says Gross.
Messages were left with the Kaufman Organization seeking comment. A representative for Amazon tells FOX 5 NY they do not comment on ongoing litigation.