Slesinger Family Press Release
Slesinger Family Wins 'Pooh" Copyright Case
Federal Court Grants Summary Judgment Against Disney Slesinger Pursuing Damages Against Disney Including Terminating US and Canadian Television, Media and Merchandising Rights to Winnie the Pooh
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 16 -- Federal District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper, of the United States District Court, Central District, issued a major decision in the federal copyright case, granting Stephen Slesinger, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment, effectively ending the Walt Disney Company's efforts to take back the Winnie the Pooh copyright.
Barry Slotnick, Slesinger's attorney from the law firm of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, said, "The Court once again has once ruled that Disney's claims against Slesinger are improper. Now that Disney's misguided claims have been dismissed, we can focus on pursuing Slesinger's claims against Disney for damages, trademark and copyright infringement, breach of contract, and fraudulently underpaying royalties, and seeking in excess of $2 billion in compensatory and general damages. We applaud the granting of our motion for summary judgment."
"In 2003, the U.S. district court in Los Angeles held there was no basis whatsoever for the first of two termination notices secured by Disney under the Copyright Act from the granddaughters of author A.A. Milne and one of the illustrators of his Winnie the Pooh stories. Now, the other shoe has dropped. The Court held there is no basis for the other termination notice instigated by Disney. The fact that the Court has now held that there is no need even for a trial concerning either termination notice shows that Disney had no business starting this lawsuit in the first place. The bottom line is that Disney's attempt to evade its royalty obligations to Slesinger has failed," said Roger Zissu, of the law firm of Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, P.C.
"It was Disney's attempt to take back the rights granted to my father over 70 years ago that led this case into federal court. Perhaps Disney might have spent their time merchandising Winnie the Pooh worldwide instead of attempting this scheme to take back what the court has thankfully ruled has been the Slesinger's all along: the rights to Winnie the Pooh," said Pati Slesinger.
In addition to the state case, Stephen Slesinger, Inc., has petitioned the United States Trademark and Patents Office seeking cancellation of a number of trademarks taken out by Disney on Winnie the Pooh based on the allegation that Disney had no legal right to do.