The Walt Disney Company’s trademarks to that “Tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff” Winnie the Pooh and the bear’s family of characters have been protected thanks to a recent U.S. appeals court ruling. The trademark had been challenged by Stephen Slesinger Inc., the family company of Stephen Slesinger, a literary agent and the original owner of Pooh merchandising rights. Pooh’s creator, A.A. Milne, had transferred the merchandising rights to Slesinger in 1930. Slesinger died in 1953 and his widow assigned the rights to Disney in 1961.
Then, in 1983, the Slesinger family agreed to take back and re-assign the rights to Disney. However, following the transfer there was a disagreement between the parties over the amount of rights retained by the Slesingers. The rights conflict has been in the courts since 1991, with Slesinger Inc. claiming rights to DVD, movie, ancillary content, and merchandising royalties, and Disney maintaining that it held all rights since the 1983 agreement.
Which Pooh character is your favorite?