View Full Version : What effect does the "Pooh" case have on the park?

11-21-2002, 08:10 AM
I just read it the "news" board. Since they were told no appeal, does that mean Pooh's rights are taken from the company or a share of the profits from Pooh related merch.?

11-21-2002, 09:14 AM
The court ruling from yesterday was an appeal on a very specific ruling dealing with the destruction of documents by Disney. The REAL trial is scheduled to start in March, but might be delayed due to another ruling requiring a new accounting of the revenue earned from Pooh sales.

Now, when the trial starts, yesterday's ruling is not good for Disney, since the jury will be told about the destruction of documents by Disney, plus will allow the jury to hear about the fact that a Disney executive had promised Slesinger royalties from Pooh videocassettes. And Disney will not be able to contest these statement in court.

So, this will help the Slesinger prove their case against Disney.

Now, what will happen if the Slesinger's win. The court will rule Disney to pay the additional royalties, plus more than likely, an additional amount as a penalty. Plus, of course, the future royalty checks would reflect the higher amount.

Now, if the court finds that Disney acted with malice, this is where the possible problem comes in. The court could order many things, including the right by the Slesinger's to terminate their agreement with Disney regarding the merchandising rights.


In allowing that amendment, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ernest M. Hiroshige also said that if fraud or breach of contract is proved, the Slesingers can terminate the contract and take their rights elsewhere. An auction in such an eventuality could prove enormously lucrative.

Now, personally, I don't think that will happen (though I think Disney will end up writing a VERY big check due to the court finding for the Slesingers.)

So what will happen if the court rules for the Slesinger's.

Disney would have to pay a percentage of theme park revenue due to the use of Winnie the Pooh at the parks, in the rides, he parades and the meet and greet characters.

And if Disney loses the merchandising rights, could they sell photos of Pooh from the meet and greets without permission from the new rights owner? Would Disney and the new company come to an agreement to allow the rides at a price that Disney is willing to pay? If not, then you would see the closing of the rides.

But, you have to have the court case, the ruling, and have the court rule that Disney committed fraud. Plus, don't forget that the case will more than likely be appealed, no matter who wins.

So, you won't see any changes in how the parks deal with Pooh for awhile. In fact, a statement to that affect was made by Disney just a couple of weeks ago during the last investor's phone call.

Master K
11-21-2002, 11:35 AM
There is another twist in this whole thing. Current US copyright law allows the ORIGINAL copyright holder to recover copyrights.

The heirs of the Pooh author A.A. Milne have recently filed to retive those rights from the Slesinger heirs (Slesinger was an agent) with the help of gues who's lawyers? That's right Dinsey's.

Many have speculated that no matter what the outcome of the current Slesinger suit that Disney already has a deal in place with the Milne heirs to cut the Slesinger's out.

So it appears that barring something very unusal Diney has pulled a Microsoft and made a no win situation into a no lose one.

11-21-2002, 12:28 PM
But the latest move by Disney is full of legal challenges..

First off, the Sonny Bono Copyright changes made by congress is in front of the Supreme Court, and the whole act could be thrown out.

And even if the Bono act is upheld, or just slightly changed due to the Supreme Court, then what the Milne's did will be challenged. Many lawyers think that the Slesingers will win this court battle.


So, while Disney has been trying to do some behind the scenes maneuvering, by no means have they been successful.

11-21-2002, 06:18 PM
And from today's news...

Judges Hand Disney Devastating Loss in Pooh Appeal (http://www.american-reporter.com/1979/1.html) - The American Reporter, 11/21/02

As reported in the American Reporter, the studio has apparently persuaded the granddaughters of Pooh creators A.A. Milne and Ernest Shepard to agree to sign over to them the Slesinger firm's rights to Pooh, and has asked the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for a ruling on whether or not it has achieved its goal of taking the rights away from the Slesinger firm.
Copyright expert Roger Zissu, however, pointed out that the law under which Disney acted, the 1998 Sony Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, specifically instructs heirs who terminate any rights under the Copyright Act that they may negotiate regarding those rights only with the party that was terminated for a two-year period from the time notice of termination is served. Zissu also pointed out that almost all the rights the Slesinger firm holds, such as trademark, contract and derivative rights - are ones excluded from termination by the Bono law. Court observers expect another setback for Disney in that matter shortly.

11-21-2002, 07:36 PM
Now why would it affect Disney's rghts to the theme parks attraction and characters on parade?

Disney owns most of the rights to the characters and its use. The only thing that the schelingers owns is the rights for merchandising. Disney should not have to pay any royalties to the schelingers for the attraction or for the charcters on parade only for any merchandise sold that is related to the characters.

11-21-2002, 08:17 PM
But the Slesingers are claiming they are using the image of Pooh to sell tickets to the Theme Parks. Is that not merchandising? Just like Disney sells VHS/DVD's of Pooh movies, cartoon and TV shows. And a Disney executive has already said that the Slesingers will get a percentage of those sales. (See today's news articles).

This is one of the issues in the court case. Who knows how it will ended up, but it seems like it is not going Disney's way....

But only time will tell...

11-24-2002, 10:53 AM
Disney has dug a big hole with this whole lawsuit and destroying records... they have a new attraction coming to Disneyland (which will be an advertising point), they have made countless TV shows (live action and cartoon), movies, dolls, and character sighting opportunities available to the public in essence moving Mickey out for Pooh (sad). I see a big problem for Disney in that they owe enough by now for a portion of the company to literally belong to the Slesinger people! Eisner might lose his job because of this or once they have a nice majority of ownership (5% maybe). I wonder if the lawsuits would give back the rights to all the Pooh merchandise (movies included) as punitative damage?

Gemini Cricket
11-24-2002, 11:05 AM
Let's say the worst happens with this lawsuit and Disney is to stop using Pooh for its merchandising, attractions etc, I wonder how they would retheme the ride they're building?

Heck, the Bears may make a comeback... :D ;)

I'm not a Pooh fan, but having Pooh gone totally from the park would leave an empty feeling in me... :(