Children's hospital in 'Tinkerbell' court fight

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Great Ormond Street Hospital is becoming involved in a multi-million-dollar law suit over the right to use the name of Tinkerbell.

Great Ormond Street Hospital is becoming involved in a multi-million-dollar law suit over the right to use the name of Tinkerbell.

J M Barrie bequeathed the copyright of his magical Peter Pan characters to the London children's hospital on his death in 1937. But an American company is claiming it paid Great Ormond Street an honorarium for the right to use the Tinkerbell name in 1952 and has accused the Disney Corporation of stealing it for profit.

New Tinkerbell Inc - producer of merchandise based around Peter Pan's mischievous fairy - is suing Disney, which made the awardwinning 1953 version of Barrie's play after buying animation rights from the hospital.

In a US case, New Tinkerbell insists Disney is guilty of trademark infringement because it is selling products featuring the name and cartoon likeness of the famous fairy.

The problem has not arisen before because, the suit claims, Disney had been honouring the copyright by buying New Tinkerbell's products, then reselling them under its own name. Last year it put out its own Tinkerbell merchandise.

"We want them to stop using the words Tinkerbell or Tinker Bell," said Michael Fein, of Cozen & O'Connor, which is representing New Tinkerbell and four of its affiliates in the suit.