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Pooh rights owner in new attack on Disney

February 09, 2007|From Bloomberg News

Walt Disney Co. is facing a new legal front in its battle over the right to the Winnie the Pooh characters.

Stephen Slesinger Inc., which owns the merchandising rights to the characters and traces its stake to a 1930 agreement with Pooh creator A.A. Milne, is seeking to cancel the U.S. trademarks of 25 Pooh-related names obtained by Disney since 1996.

Disney "was not the owner of the registered marks at the time that these filings were made," Slesinger said of the trademark applications. The company was "at most only a licensee."

The petition before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is the latest in a 16-year legal battle over the rights to the honey-loving bear and his friends. In June the U.S. Supreme Court rebuffed efforts by Milne's granddaughter Clare Milne, acting with the support of Disney, to wrest the rights away from Slesinger.

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