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Last Updated: Monday, 8 November, 2004, 21:05 GMT
Court battle threat to Diana fund
Diana plate by the Franklin Mint
The Franklin Mint produces plates and dolls, among other mementos
A US case which threatens the future of the charitable fund set up to honour Diana, Princess of Wales, has been delayed until Wednesday.

The fund is being sued by US souvenir firm Franklin Mint, which wants 14m ($25m) for malicious prosecution.

On Monday, a judge in Los Angeles adjourned the case until Wednesday. No reason was given for the delay.

In October a judge said Franklin Mint could seek damages after the fund failed in a legal bid to stop it selling Diana memorabilia.

The fund froze its charitable donations due to the costly legal battle.

The mementos sold by the US company included dolls and plates.

'Unfounded' legal action

The legal action, filed in November 2002, claimed the fund and the executors of the late princess's estate, including her sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale, acted "maliciously, wantonly ... and with the intent to oppress".

Dr Andrew Purkis, the chief executive of the fund, has labelled the lawsuit "unfounded".

The fund said: "At this early stage of the case and given the uncertainty of foreign litigation, the fund's maximum theoretical potential liability is unquantifiable."

The battle has already proved costly for the fund.

It was left with a 4m legal bill from the original 1998 trial in which it tried, unsuccessfully, to stop Franklin Mint making products bearing the princess's image.

In July 2003 the fund announced that it would have to suspend its charitable donations as a result of expenses relating to the legal action.

'Consumer demand'

The lawsuit states: "For centuries, collectibles bearing the names and images of members of the Royal Family have been openly and legally sold in Great Britain, the United States and around the world without permission from any source.

"Princess Diana's death on 31 August, 1997 created massive consumer demand for Princess Diana memorabilia which the Mint and hundreds of others attempted to service."

Franklin Mint said it "scrupulously honoured" promises to donate some of the proceedings from sales to charity.

In the lawsuit, the Pennsylvania-based firm also accused the fund of trying to "corner the market for Princess Diana collectibles, and to extract fees from vendors, by falsely proclaiming that it owned the 'exclusive rights' to her name and image".

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund was set up on 2 September, 1997, three days after the princess was killed in a car crash in Paris.

Despite the fund being forced to freeze its donations in July 2003 due to legal costs, it managed to secure 8.5m replacement funding from various organisations for its outstanding projects.

And it continues to carry out campaign work on a number of issues, most notably the removal of cluster bombs.

The fund has pledged 50 million in grants in the UK and worldwide.

Diana memorial fund sued
19 Nov 02 |  UK

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