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New Tinkerbell Inc. Sues Disney Over Fairy Rights

New York-based New Tinkerbell, Inc. has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Walt Disney Co. in regards to the Tinkerbell trademark. As reported in the on-line magazine, INSIDE, New Tinkerbell and its several affiliates claim they purchased the rights to the character from the then rights holder, the Hospital for Sick Children of London, in 1952 a year before Disneys PETER PAN was released. For 13 years, New Tinkerbell has been producing various products with the image of Tinkerbell on them. Up until February of 1999, some of the products were even being sold in Disney stores. The federal suit alleges that Disney began marketing a competing line of Tinkerbell products beginning last year, which the suit describes as unlawful use of "a female fairy character in interstate commerce." Michael Fein, the lawyer representing New Tinkerbell, said on Friday that he had not served papers to Disney, but expects Disney to respond with counter charges that New Tinkerbell is infringing on Disneys copyrighted likeness of the character. Fein responded by saying that Disneys Tinkerbell with "the scalloped dress, torn, with no belt and no shoulders; hair cut in a pixie style" is not the same as the new Tinkerbell rendition. Sir James Matthew Barrie created the Tinkerbell character in his 1911 book, PETER AND WENDY. Upon his death he left the books copyright to the London Hospital for Children after his death. Since then the book has entered the pubic domain.

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