Christian Retailing

Lawsuit against Precious Moments dismissed Print Email
Written by Rhonda Sholar   
Friday, 16 January 2009 10:55 AM America/New_York

Singer-songwriter claimed teardrop-eyed gift company stole her idea for virtual club, series of books

Precious Moments has been cleared of any wrongdoing in a federal lawsuit brought by a Franklin, Tenn., singer-songwriter who claimed that the company behind the iconic teardrop-eyed gift characters stole her idea for a virtual club for young girls and a new series of books featuring Christian characters.

In her lawsuit filed in September, Shannon Clemmons sued for breach of fiduciary duties, fraud, unfair competition, copyright infringement and breach of contract. Precious Moments denied her claims.

In late October a judge for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee dismissed 15 of 18 claims of copyright infringement against

Precious Moments and one of six fraud claims against Ron Smith of Ron Smith Management Partners in Nashville. During a trial in early November, the judge threw out the remaining fraud claims against Ron Smith, and a jury ruled in favor of Precious Moments and Smith on all copyright infringement claims.

“The judge … and the jury … (found) that we independently developed all aspects of the Precious Girls Club,” Susan Meek, vice president of licensing for the Rolling Meadows, Ill.-based Precious Moments, told Christian Retailing.

According to the lawsuit, Clemmons came up with the idea in 2005 to create a line of Christian characters that she called Gracie Girls. She wrote several songs and had sketches of characters drawn up with plans to create a color storybook, lyrics for five songs, a Gracie Girls Club membership, a study guide for mothers and a princess crown.

According to The (Nashville) Tennessean, Clemmons claimed she pitched her creation to Smith, a Christian agent who has consulted with well-known authors, musicians and gift creators in the last 20 years, in May 2007.

But Smith told Clemmons the Christian retail market was struggling, she said, and that Christian book sales were going downhill. Clemmons said she left a DVD and portfolio from her sales pitch with one of Smith’s employees, the newspaper reported.

Clemmons said that this past August she found the Precious Girls Club—designed for girls ages 2 to 10 and based on Precious Moments’ popular line of ceramic angels—featured in Playthings magazine, the newspaper reported. Clemmons’ suit claimed that Smith and his company were working with Precious Moments in launching the Precious Girls Club, while telling her there was no market for her Gracie Girls line.

Smith told Christian Retailing he briefly met with Clemmons in May 2007 as a favor for a friend. But after seeing her product, Smith said he declined to take it.