London, Nov. 5 (Reuters): A woman whose grandfather gave the world Winnie the Pooh is seeking to claw back US commercial control of the honey-loving bear who has enchanted children across the globe for three-quarters of a century.
Clare Milne’s move is the latest in a long legal battle over the rights to merchandise Pooh, the docile “bear of very little brain” created by British author A. A. Milne in the 1920s.
Lawyers confirmed today that Claire Milne aims to reclaim the US rights to Pooh merchandise from Stephen Slesinger Inc. (SSI), the American firm which has held them since the 1930s. “Clare has exercised a termination right which is granted under US copyright law,” a lawyer representing Clare Milne said. The lawyer declined to give further details.
Slesinger leased the rights to Pooh to Walt Disney Co. in 1961, but later said the media giant shortchanged it on royalties and started legal action against it in 1991. Disney, which reaps around $1.0 billion each year in revenue from Pooh merchandise, denies the charges. It says it is currently paying Slesinger $230,000 a week in Pooh-related royalties.