Home News Legal Matters Disney wins long, bitter Pooh battle

Disney wins long, bitter Pooh battle


The Walt Disney company has emerged victorious in a 16-year court battle over the rights to Winnie the Pooh. A California appellate court upheld an earlier ruling that threw out the case filed by the family of Stephen Slesinger, who had acquired the merchandising rights to the ursine honey-lover from creator A. A. Milne in the 30s.

A major reason for Disney’s triumph was behavior on the part of the Slesinger legal team: they were caught “dumpster diving” to find evidence and even worse, tampering with the evidence to help their case. The decision may be precedent setting.

“We hold that when a plaintiff’s deliberate and egregious misconduct makes any sanction other than dismissal inadequate to ensure a fair trial, the trial court has inherent power to impose a terminating sanction,” the 54-page ruling concluded.

The battle over the bear has cost the two sides tens of millions of dollars in legal fees and resulted in hundreds of thousands of documents filed in lawsuits that have come before at least four judges in California and federal courts.

“The message is loud and clear that if you cheat in the courts you forfeit your rights to the courts,” said Daniel Petrocelli, Disney’s lead attorney in the Pooh case. “Eventually, all of the cheating came to light and the case was rightfully thrown out.”

The Slesingers can still appeal to the California Supreme Court, so there still could be some legal Heffalumps lurking in the 100 Acre Wood.


  1. I kinda missed developments in this case, so I’m a little surprised that the table’s turned & the Slesinger people are “dumpster diving”…wasn’t the headline in this case (a coupls yrs ago) that Disney was supposed to have destroyed cartons of paperwork THEY had that made them look bad?

    Apparently the Slesingers figgered the DUMPSTER was their best bet…

  2. All I know is, everything I’ve seen related to Pooh and Friends is by Disney.

    But just b/c they won this lawsuit doesn’t mean the right thing happened, and with them, being Disney, most likely someone’s getting screwed over.

  3. I don’t think the case is entirely over. The Slesinger estate is apparently appealing to the CA Supreme Court, and is also supposed to be filing a federal lawsuit as well (at least according to the LA Times).

    I think this is one of those cases where neither party actually remembers anything about the details of the case anymore, but don’t want to say, “Let’s just forget the whole thing.” Go ahead and try to read any of the summaries of this case. I double dog dare you.

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