After 18 years of decidedly un-cuddly court battles, Walt Disney Co. and the estate of Winnie the Pooh licensee Stephen Slesinger are right back where they started. On Friday, Los Angeles federal district court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper granted Disney’s motion to dismiss all of Stephen Slesinger Inc.’s remaining infringement claims, committing the parties to continue a business relationship that began in 1961 when Slesinger’s widow transferred the Pooh rights to Disney in exchange for royalties. Here’s a copy of the judge’s order.
The Slesinger family — which acquired merchandising rights to A.A. Milne’s characters in 1930 — first sued Disney in California state court in 1991 over allegations that the company hid the true value of its Pooh sales and skimped on royalties to the tune of $700 million. That fraud and breach of contract suit was dismissed in 2005, after a state court judge determined that a private investigator for the Slesingers improperly obtained evidence from Disney.
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