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November 13, 2009

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Winnie firm seeks fees from Disney

THE company founded by the man who made Winnie the Pooh internationally famous filed a notice of appeal to get unpaid royalties for the use of the beloved children's characters.

Attorneys for Stephen Slesinger Inc filed papers in the Unites States District Court in Los Angeles on November 5 to notify the court that it is appealing to collect past royalties from Walt Disney Co and redress for "past improper business practices."

Disney spokeswoman Michelle Bergman said claims by the late Stephen Slesinger's family were dismissed in federal court in September, when a judge ruled Disney has the license to the Pooh characters.

Slesinger signed a licensing deal with Pooh creator A.A. Milne in 1931. Slesinger gave the bear his red shirt, developed Pooh products and then licensed the rights to Disney in 1961. The agreement was updated in 1983.

A Stephen Slesinger Inc spokesman, Lonnie Soury, said the latest ruling in the case left the door open for the family to get hundreds of millions of dollars in past royalties from Disney.

Slesinger Inc attorney Eric George argued the judge said the family is owed 1.5 to 2.5 percent in royalties going forward. Soury said Disney is hiding the money it has earned from the sale of Pooh products.


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