Franklin Mint Limits Diana Fund Claim In Latest PR Move

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Collectibles marketer The Franklin Mint this week fired back once again in its six-year war with The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund by announcing it has limited its claim against the fund to money that has not already been pledged to charities.


The move follows the Diana fund's announcement last week that it has frozen $16 million worth of grants to preserve its assets during its ongoing battle with Franklin Mint.


More than 100 charities face closure or cutbacks as a result of the freeze, The Guardian UK reported.


However, The Franklin Mint, Franklin Center, PA, said in a statement July 15 that it "guarantees to make no claim against the 10 million pounds in grants the fund has already committed to a variety of worthy causes. Thus there is no longer any reason for the fund to continue withholding the 10 million pounds in already promised grants."


The fund and executors of Princess Diana's estate sued Franklin Mint in 1998 over a collectible plate the company marketed after Diana's death in a Paris car accident in 1997. The lawsuit was thrown out in November. Franklin Mint then sued the fund for $25 million, claiming the fund and estate acted maliciously in their suit.


"This is an attempt to send a message to any group that would try to abuse the justice system to intimidate businesses into paying royalties that they are not obligated to pay," Franklin Mint spokesman Allan Mayer said. "What the Memorial Fund was doing wasn't just aimed at The Mint. It was an attempt to use The Mint as an example to intimidate other businesses as well."


Franklin Mint also has posted a prominent headline on its home page, "Franklin Mint and Princess Diana," linking to a statement expressing disappointment that the fund has frozen the $16 million in promised funds and claiming that its lawsuit "is most definitely not a matter of money."


The company has pledged that any money it collects in damages from the fund will go to causes that Princess Diana supported in her lifetime.


The fund has countered with a statement claiming it awaits official notification of the company's decision to limit its claim.


"We are currently waiting official confirmation of this from Franklin Mint via our lawyers and will need to look very carefully at the document," said a statement on the fund's home page at TheWorkContinues.org. "Until we have done so we are anxious not to raise expectations of our beneficiaries. We have no further media statements to make at present."


Mayer called the fund's asset freeze a "cynical PR maneuver. ... It was done clearly to generate headlines, as it did initially, saying that all these worthy charities were being denied their funds because of The Franklin Mint. We just felt that it was so appalling that they had tried to use these charities as pawns."


Mayer declined to say how much business Diana's name drives for the company.


"Popularity for the Diana commemorative plates and dolls has been consistently strong," he said.


It's safe to say, however, that Diana is responsible for some heavy margins and average order sizes. A search of Franklin Mint's site under "Diana" returns 37 products ranging in price from the $55 "White Lace Gown for Diana, the People's Princess Doll," to the $595 "Princess Diana Tiara Ring."


The sixth anniversary of Princess Diana's death is Aug. 31.


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