Painter Must Arbitrate Dispute with Art Dealer

     MIAMI (CN) – A contemporary French painter’s claims against an American art dealer are subject to arbitration even though the licensing agreement has allegedly expired, a federal judge ruled.
     Jacqueline Polvent, a resident of France whose pen name is JalinPol, entered a licensing agreement in 2003 with Global Fine Arts Inc. and BWB Galleries Inc. for the worldwide distribution and publishing of her art work.
     When a copyright dispute arose, Global moved to have it settled in arbitration, as required under the agreement.
     But Polvent argued the agreement had expired in 2013, before the lawsuit was filed, and she is no longer bound by the arbitration clause.
     U.S. District Judge Frederico Moreno sided with Global, stating it is up to the arbitrator to decide if the terms have expired.
     Global stated in its answer to JalinPol complaint that the parties met six months before the original agreement was to expire to discuss new terms, but that a new contract was never signed. It also claims JalinPol never terminated the agreement in writing and she continued to accept the payments.
     To support that contention, it pointed to a provision of the 2003 agreement that states, “[T]his Agreement will be automatically renewed for a successive and consecutive Five (5) year period(s)” unless terminated in writing one year before the expiration date.
     It further stated, “All disputes arising under this Agreement shall be submitted to binding arbitration before an independent third party mutually agreed upon by the parties.”
     According to Judge Moreno’s order, Global sent JalinPol a letter in April demanding arbitration for her tortuous interference with its contracts with galleries. Rather than comply, JalinPol filed a lawsuit against Global claiming Global’s actions after the termination of the licensing agreement amounted to copyright infringement.
     Frederico ruled that the contract between Global and JalinPol is in dispute and that federal laws compel the parties to be bound by the arbitration clause.
     As for JalinPol’s copyright infringement claim, Moreno found that the claim accused Global of doing the very thing the agreement states it should do – distribute and publish her artwork. Further, the issue of whether the agreement was in fact terminated as JalinPol claims is for the arbitrators to decide, he said.

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