Page last updated at 10:54 GMT, Friday, 13 November 2009

Disney sued over Pooh royalties

Winnie-the-Pooh
Slesinger gave Pooh a makeover which included his famous red shirt

The family of the man who made Winnie-the-Pooh famous in the US is suing Disney over alleged unpaid royalties.

The late Stephen Slesinger, who signed a licensing deal with Pooh creator AA Milne in 1931, gave the bear his red shirt and developed Pooh products.

The rights were then licensed to Disney in 1961 which went on to make a series of films, TV shows, books and toys.

Disney denies the claim by Slesinger's family that it has hidden the amount of money it has earned from merchandising.

'Baffling' move

Spokeswoman Michelle Bergman said the issue had been dealt with in September when a judge ruled Disney had the licence to the Pooh characters.

That made the family's latest legal move "baffling", she added.

"We've always acknowledged that some of the rights we obtained are royalty bearing and continue to be so."

Though the decision established that Disney is the licensee, we are still owed hundreds of millions of dollars
Slesinger Inc

Slesinger family spokesman Lonnie Soury said that, while that case had been lost, royalties were still owed.

"Though the decision established that Disney is the licensee, we are still owed hundreds of millions of dollars.

"We don't know exactly what that figure is because Disney accounting is Hollywood accounting."

Slesinger Inc lawyer Eric George said that if Disney did not provide the royalties, his client could revoke the licence.

The legal claim is the latest in a prolonged tussle between Disney and Slesinger Inc.

The parties renewed their TV agreement in 1983 saying Disney would retain 98% of gross worldwide royalties with Slesinger getting 2%.

Slesinger's estate later began legal proceedings saying it was underpaid.

That claim was thrown out by a judge after it was discovered that a Slesinger investigator had stolen confidential documents from Disney offices and bins.



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