A federal appeals court has blocked an attempt by the granddaughter of British author A.A. Milne to claim the merchandising rights to Winnie the Pooh, a setback for her supporter, Walt Disney, according to court documents obtained on Wednesday.
The U.S. 9th Court of Appeals refused in a Jan. 15 ruling to give Disney and Clare Milne a chance to reclaim rights to Pooh for Milne as part of an expedited appeal.
Stephen Slesinger Inc., a family firm that owns the rights to sell Pooh merchandise, has fought Disney in court for over a decade, accusing it of withholding Pooh royalties.
That case, which Disney has said could cost it hundreds of millions of dollars, will go to trial Jan. 10, 2005, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles McCoy ruled on Jan. 13.
The Superior Court also agreed to let Disney call witnesses next month in a hearing on its allegations that Slesinger hired detectives who stole Disney documents in the mid-1990s in a bid to gather evidence against Disney.