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The real mess would hit the fan if the family decides to wipe Pooh from all Disney properties. The company's lawyers say the Slesingers have no legal basis to withhold Disney's right to Pooh, but the family's attorneys disagree. The Slesingers say Pooh is Disney's biggest moneymaker, topping even Mickey Mouse, and that Disney would lose about a quarter of its annual revenue without the chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff.

I think it is interesting that "the company the Mouse built" has characters outselling Mickey. It has been my concern that Disney is underutilizing its "owned" characters. Why is Disney not developing wholly-owned new characters on which it build its business?

Movies have a tremendous impact. Think of the Star War characters. When the movie came out in the early 1970's, the character names and 'faces' were new. Within weeks, many of the names and phrases (let the force be with you) were in the mainstream press and common conversation. Disney has the media tools to create characters.

It is sad to see Disney having troubles based on a 1930 agreement. Times change. It looks like the Disney legal department failed to keep the intent of a contract clear. It would be sad to see Disney lose $200 million and the rights to a character it has spent so much to develop.

I guess the key question is how important is Pooh? At my house it is big. We just purchased (at EPCOT) a Winnie the Pooh poster with the autographs of the three principal voices. It is proudly displayed in the kids room.

Pooh has been pushed to the limit by Disney. We own Pooh nightwear, Pooh watches -- you name it. It will be interesting to see how Disney resolves this problem. Based on recent experience with executives, Disney will pay a very high price.
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