Winnie the Pooh is in the centre of a legal whirlwind as Disney is currently being sued by the firm of the man who helped turn the friendly bear into an international sensation.
Lawyers for Stephen Slesinger Inc. are determined to have their day in court. They have filed numerous times with the courts to have their case heard and it has been dismissed everytime. They have filed papers yet again this time at Los Angeles District Court calling for redress, claiming “past improper business practices” by Disney.
Slesinger had purchased Canadian and US rights for the beloved bear from British writer AA Milne in 1931 and had given Pooh a red shirt contributing to his worldwide success in later years. Lawyers for the company are saying Slesinger Inc. is the victim of ‘Hollywood accounting’, where profits are concealed so they dont have to fork over so much $$$ for those with a financial stake. Eric George, lawyer for Slesinger claims the family is own 1.5 to 2.5 % of the royalties because of this alleged concealment of money earned from the Disney merchandising of Pooh. This includes films, television shows, books and even toys of Pooh
But here’s the kicker, the merchandising only took place after Slesinger’s death, not only that but the rights reverted back to Disney!! which is the reason for which the case keep getting thrown out.
Team Disney says, “In 19 years of litigation, every legal claim the Slesinger company has filed against Disney has been dismissed by the courts and Disney’s position has been vindicated every step of the way.”
On September 25, this was recently supported by Judge Florence-Marie Cooper ruled that Stephen Slesinger Inc. ”transferred all of its rights in the Pooh works to Disney, and may not now claim infringement of any retained rights.”
Those little clauses change EVERYTHING don’t they! Sad to miss out on all that moolah. Maybe Disney will feel charitable at some point? Yea, and we will find diamond earrings dropping out the sky tomorrow.