#IPCorner : The bear means business #WinniethePoohDay
For a bear of very little brain, there has been a lot of head scratching over IP ownership when it comes to Winnie and his host of friends from Hundred Acre Wood. Starting with Milne's books in the 1920s, Pooh soon became a very profitable entity when Milne granted merchandising rights to Steven Slesinger, who gave him his now distinctive red top and developed a whole host of Pooh-related products, from board games to the very first animation of the hungry bear.
But the confusion really started after Slesinger and Milne's deaths, when the global force that is Disney entered the scene, with licensing rights sold to them by both partners' widows in exchange for royalties. Pooh became Disney's most profitable character, even eclipsing the OG, Mickey Mouse. Multiple challenges followed over the multi-billion dollar merchandishing empire, up to as recently as 2012 when the cartoon moguls won a hearing over the rights to the lovable bear and his pals, with Slesinger's estate's claims that they were owed greater royalities than had been recorded being rejected by the court.
The Pooh books will enter the public domain this decade, 70 years after Milne's death but with Disney still holding the trademark on his name, who knows what's ahead for him, Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger. But what is for sure is that this little bear is worth a whole lot of honey. .
To avoid getting the heffal[h]ump when it comes to protecting your IP, come in and see us at the Business and IP Centre, in London and across the country.