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Shop Owner Sued by Disney over Pooh Business Name

This is the sort of story I think we should see more of in the business world. The Walt Disney Company has a long history of aggressively protecting their trademarks. Of late, Disney has spent a lot of time in the court room trying to protect its trademark on the A.A. Milne Winnie The Pooh characters. The courts have ruled for Disney time and time again and that case is essentially closed.

So when I read a headline suggesting Disney was in yet another battle of the Pooh trademark, I was prepared for another case of Disney’s strong arm. Turns out this story has a happy ending for everyone.

British shop owner and self-proclaimed “poohologist” Michael Ridley runs a little museum and store focused on the characters he studies and loves so much. He’s even consulted for Disney on the upcoming Winnie The Pooh movie. Ridley was getting his estate in order and decided to trademark his store’s name “Pooh Corner”, and that set off the alarms at Disney’s eagle-eyed legal department.

Disney as the owner of the Pooh trademark is required to protect that mark so as to prevent confusion among who owns it and it becoming a common mark. The typical response is to send a cease and desist, that usually means the end of the business line being sued. There is an alternate response, to come to a license arrangement for a legitimate and limited use of the trademark. This protects the trademark and allows both parties to continue working, and in this case, increasing the value of the property.

So I was so happy to hear that Disney and Ridley were able to come to such an arrangement. Details are not covered in this article, but it certainly is a great bit of news.

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