Hartfield shop owner's legal wrangle with Disney

The Argus: WRANGLE: Michael Ridley WRANGLE: Michael Ridley

A grandfather has gone head to head with Disney in a legal wrangle over Winnie the Pooh.

Michael Ridley, who describes himself as a Poohologist, took on the multinational to try to protect Pooh Corner, his heritage centre and shop.

Now he has now won the right to continue using an image of the famous bear for his business.

The 68-year-old wanted to register the trademark Pooh Corner Hartfield, in High Street, Hartfield, near East Grinstead, so he could pass on the business when he retires.

Although he lost the legal battle, Disney gave his company permission to continue using the name and an image of Pooh and Christopher Robin, even under new ownership.

Mr Ridley, who acted as a storyline consultant for the latest Winnie the Pooh film which will be released in July, has been running Pooh Corner since 1978.

He said: “The idea that my little business could be a threat to Disney is a bit laughable.

“I have been using the image of Pooh and Christopher Robin for years and because I have a good relationship with the people at Disney they have never minded.

“But I suppose they are worried about other people taking advantage of their trademarks.”

The registrar for the Intellectual Property Office ruled Disney was justified in its opposition to Mr Ridley's request for a trademark, as it would cause confusion for consumers.

He was ordered to pay £2,000 costs but Disney insisted the goodwill arrangement, which has allowed Pooh Corner to use its logo until now, remains in place.

No one from Disney Enterprises was available to comment.

Comments (2)

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2:18pm Fri 21 Jan 11

Tom V says...

It's a shame that Pooh's heritage isn't celebrated more in Hartfield. I had difficulties finding Pooh Bridge thanks to a lack of signs and gave up on A Hundred Acres Wood. There isn't even any information about Pooh Sticks or the Pooh story when you get there, just some health & safety warnings!

A.A. Milne's stories have captivated children and adults alike for generations, surely the council could afford to buy a few signs?
It's a shame that Pooh's heritage isn't celebrated more in Hartfield. I had difficulties finding Pooh Bridge thanks to a lack of signs and gave up on A Hundred Acres Wood. There isn't even any information about Pooh Sticks or the Pooh story when you get there, just some health & safety warnings! A.A. Milne's stories have captivated children and adults alike for generations, surely the council could afford to buy a few signs? Tom V

12:59am Sun 23 Jan 11

peter pumpkineater says...

My Scots friend Jimmy said 'Mr Ridley obviously cares, but guess what? Walt Disney'!
My Scots friend Jimmy said 'Mr Ridley obviously cares, but guess what? Walt Disney'! peter pumpkineater

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