Disney loses court battle in Winnie the Pooh copyright case
US media giant Walt Disney has lost a court battle in a long-running fight over the copyright of the Winnie the Pooh character, the attorney challenging the company says.
A US federal judge in California granted Stephen Slesinger Inc, which claims the rights to Winnie the Pooh, a "summary judgment" that effectively ends Disney's efforts to take back the copyright, attorney Barry Slotnick says.
"The court once again has once ruled that Disney's claims against Slesinger are improper," Mr Slotnick said in a statement.
"Now that Disney's misguided claims have been dismissed, we can focus on pursuing Slesinger's claims against Disney for damages, trademark and copyright infringement, breach of contract, and fraudulently underpaying royalties, and seeking in excess of $2 billion in compensatory and general damages," he said.
The heirs of Stephen Slesinger, who bought the US rights from "Pooh" author A A Milne in 1930 and began licensing them to Disney in 1961, claim the powerful firm has cheated them out of hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties.
Mr Slesinger's widow agreed to negotiate the rights deal with Disney after his death.
A first agreement was reached in 1961 and renegotiated in 1983.
Milne's granddaughter, Claire, has sought to claim back the rights to the honey-guzzling bear with Disney's support.
A Disney attorney was no immediately available for comment.