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Last Updated: Monday, 29 March, 2004, 21:19 GMT 22:19 UK
Disney wins Pooh court victory
Winnie the Pooh
The row over Winnie the Pooh has been running 13 years
Disney appears to have won its 14 year old Winnie the Pooh court case.

A US judge has thrown out the lawsuit brought by Stephen Slesinger Inc, after the family firm was revealed to have stolen a number of Disney documents.

SSI had been seeking many millions of dollars in unpaid royalties.

Judge Charles McCoy said SSI's actions had corrupted the legal process.

Disney said it marked the end of a case that first started back in 1991.

SSI may however now appeal.

Litter picking

In dismissing the case Judge McCoy wrote: "SSI's willingness to tamper with, and even corrupt, the litigation process constitutes a substantial threat to the integrity of the judicial process."

Disney officials had earlier claimed the confidential documents were stolen on behalf of SSI by a private investigator in the early 1990s.

SSI responded that Disney had known for years it had hired private investigators to look for documents in dustbins but had not objected.

It denied entering Disney buildings to obtain documents from desks or briefcases.

Judge McCoy was however unmoved by SSI's expiation.

Video royalties

"It is all over," said Disney lawyer Daniel Petrocelli.

"After 13 years the Winnie the Pooh case is finally over."

US literary agent Stephen Slesinger purchased the American merchandising rights to Winnie the Pooh from British author AA Milne in 1930.

His family went on to reach a deal for Disney to sell Winnie the Pooh products, but have disagreed many times on the correct amount of royalties SSI should be paid.

The case that has just been thrown out centred around SSI's rights to royalties from Winnie the Pooh videos, DVDs and computer games.

Shareholder opposition

Bret Fausett, a lawyer for SSI, said he would be appealing on his client's behalf.

"This decision does not absolve Disney of the serious allegations the Slesingers brought against them for breach of contract and fraud," he said.

The court judgement is a welcome boost for Disney.

It follows months of shareholder revolt over the company's perceived weak profits, a hostile first takeover attempt by US cable company Comcast, and Disney chairman and chief executive Michael Eisner being forced to give up the former title.




SEE ALSO:
Disney steps up Pooh court battle
26 Feb 04  |  Entertainment
Shareholders desert Disney boss
26 Feb 04  |  Business
Pooh owners accused of stealing
25 Feb 04  |  Business
Endgame nears in Pooh legal row
22 Jan 04  |  Business


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