Pinnacle Books, Inc. v. Harlequin Enterprises Limited

519 F. Supp. 118 (1981)

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Pinnacle Books, Inc. v. Harlequin Enterprises Limited

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
519 F. Supp. 118 (1981)

Facts

Publisher Pinnacle Books, Inc. (plaintiff) and author Don Pendleton had a successful contractual relationship through which Pinnacle Books published 38 books written by Pendleton. The books were part of an action and adventure series called the Executioner Series. Pendleton owned the copyright for the series. The 1976 contract for the publication of books 29–38 included a clause requiring Pendleton not to extend an offer to any other publisher to publish the Executioner Series unless Pinnacle Books and Pendleton could not agree on a new contract after using their best efforts in negotiating. The parties began negotiating in 1978. In January 1980, after the parties had negotiated for about a year, another publisher, Harlequin Enterprises Limited (defendant), notified Pendleton of its interest in publishing the Executioner Series. Pendleton notified Pinnacle Books that he would cease negotiations while considering Harlequin’s offer. A few months later, Pendleton took Harlequin’s offer. Pinnacle Books sued Harlequin Enterprises on the ground that Harlequin interfered with Pinnacle’s contractual relationship with Pendleton, knowing Pendleton was required to negotiate with Pinnacle Books. Harlequin alleged that the best-efforts clause in Pinnacle Books’ contract was not enforceable. Pinnacle Books filed a motion for summary judgment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Duffy, J.)

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