Takeaway: Under existing U.S. copyright law, Winnie the Pooh now belongs to the public domain.
A.A. Milne initially developed a talking yellow bear in 1924, but the Winnie the Pooh character as we know him first appeared publicly in 1926. In the early 60’s, Disney acquired IP rights to the beloved children’s character.
Under U.S. law, the copyrights of literary, artistic, musical, dramatic, and certain other intellectual works last for the life of the author plus 70 years. If the author is anonymous, uses a pseudonym, or is a “work for hire”, the rights last for 95 years from the date of publication or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever comes first. Once the term expires, the work becomes part of the public domain. For Pooh and his friends (except Tigger), the applicable 95-year term expired in January 2022, which means that the public is allowed to use the copyright. Tigger enters the public domain in January 2024.
That being said, you still need to be careful not to violate any of Disney’s existing and ongoing trademarks!
www. plagiarismtoday .com/2022/01/05/what-winnie-the-pooh-lapsing-into-the-public-domain-really-means/