melissaanne Posted 3 Jan 2006 , 8:35am
post #1 of

Hi! What characters are we allowed to use? ie Are we able to make figures of say Thomas or Bob the builder and sell them? Which one's aren't we allowed to do?I read somewhere a little about copyright, but the article was so vauge that I am more confused than ever. I actually wanted to do a cake with Alice in Wonderland. Some advice would be very helpful. icon_surprised.gif

33 replies
flayvurdfun Posted 3 Jan 2006 , 11:58am
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Anything that is copyrighted © can't be, or things with a registered trade mark ® can't be either. So that is pretty much says anything you heard of isnt aloud.. if the character is seen on tv or in the movies it's been copyrighted or has a registered trademark. People still do cakes, heck I did too, 'cuz they dont think they will get caught. But if it's being sold it's illegal. I heard somewhere (I think on here) that any lawyer can start legal actions. But I also know I heard, another when you are caught (if you are) the fees usually start around 5,000USD and more depending on the popularity of the character. Someone was turned in to Disney and Pixar for doing a Woody and Buzzlight year cake, and she was fined 18,250 USD (just over 9000 each), but avoided jail time because she wasn't doing it as a profession or something like that. When my husband heard he flipped and told me not to do anymore cakes with characters on it, if I didnt have the pan for it....then asked me to get my cakes of characters off of here, but that hasnt been done yet... it can be a serious serious offense.

edited to add that I contacted a bakery on this to see if I could buy those toppers, and they said the same thing that you can't sell without permission from the company that copyrighted the character.

texastwinkie Posted 3 Jan 2006 , 12:29pm
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If the cake is made from a character shaped pan the company whom manufactors the pan has bought the right to sell it to the consumer. An example would be a Wilton Mickey Mouse cake pan . I'm not 100% sure on this but I assume that you could prepare the cake and sell it, rather than you taking a sheet cake and transfering a Mickey Mouse on to this and selling. I know that in our library we can purchase a Disney video with performing rights as opposed to just buying a video form a store to show to our students. Does that make sense? I'm short on time this am and could go into more detail so let me check my copyright info when I get to work and I'll get back with you on this later today.

WendyVA Posted 3 Jan 2006 , 1:35pm
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Actually, the character shaped pans normally have a statement on the insert that says "For home use only". If you buy the pan you also buy the permission to use the pan for personal use but NOT to sell. The copyright owner does not want others to make money on their intellectual property because they're not getting their cut.

There are some books out that give instructions on how to make character cakes so it seem like it should be legal to make them if someone published a book, right? That's half true. You can make them for personal use but not sell them. In the front of Debbie Brown's Favorite Character Cakes there is a disclaimer that states "The cake designs in this book are copyright and may not be used for any commercial purpose without a liscence from a copyright owner".

All logos like sports teams or stores like Lowes or Walmart are also copyrighted and you could get into trouble for using them. I contacted a local college and asked for permission to use their logo on a cake and they granted it as long as I don't advertise the cake, so I could not post the picture on my website - so asking for permission is an option.

I know alot of people that make character cakes and use logos and don't worry and that's none of my business and I don't care, but it's just not worth the trouble for me because I'm scared of getting caught! icon_smile.gif So I don't do anything copyrighted without permission. I purchase the cake toys to use on cakes when someone asks for a copyrighted character. Probably most copyright owners never check up on people using their character or logo on cakes, and some (like sports teams) probably don't care because it's free advertising for them but I just can't risk it.

I hope that makes some sense.

loriemoms Posted 3 Jan 2006 , 4:29pm
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I understand the Wilton pans are for personal use only. And Disney is VERY nasty if you use their characters. (I read where they sued a children's hospital for putting Mickey Mouse on the walls without permission!) I would stick with characters that "resemble" the character..like maybe use a mouse but make it alittle different...or make a train, but use the thomas colors, but not make it thomas the train. I just wouldn't risk it....

I am still trying to find out if Nascar cakes are ok!! (very big here!)

flayvurdfun Posted 3 Jan 2006 , 4:51pm
post #6 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by texastwinkie

If the cake is made from a character shaped pan the company whom manufactors the pan has bought the right to sell it to the consumer. An example would be a Wilton Mickey Mouse cake pan . I'm not 100% sure on this but I assume that you could prepare the cake and sell it, .





I called Wilton earlier, and they said you cannot sell a cake made from the character pan. When you buy the pan you have bought the right to use it for your own self not to be sold..... It's so dang confusing and horrible that the big guy (companies) would be so emminent about it... I dont see it making a big dent in their wallets, but they sure act if it does. I wont sell them anymore, I will do them and "donate" them to a church , or a bake sale etc, but I won't do them to sell anymore...its also like those cake topper kits, you can buy these things for YOUR use, but dont sell whatever with it on there cuz then you are breaking the law...I also wanted to see if that was true so I went to a bakery and they told me the same thing.... I also looked on a website that sells those topper things you can get and they wont sell them to just anyone, you have to have a licensed bakery so they can turn your license number over to the companies that make these for copyrighted stuff. It's just ridiculous.

Quote:
Originally Posted by loriemoms


I am still trying to find out if Nascar cakes are ok!! (very big here!)




it would be my guess that it wouldn't be...but then who would you pay if it were to go that way? icon_confused.gif the car, the driver, the sponsors? all? hmmm I can say I never thought about that....

Cakeman66 Posted 3 Jan 2006 , 7:05pm
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If more people cared about getting sued, less people would buy the pans of "copyrighted characters". IF they knew they couldn't sell them.

I personally won't buy them for use to be sold, because I don't have the kind of money it takes to license them. If I'm asked to do that, I tell them go to such and such a place. I'll gladly pass up a sale of a "cheap" cake over a lawsuit anyday. Plus, I feel I have enough original ideas to get me by. It's my business, if I choose not to sell a "Mickey" cake, then they should respect that. it hasn't hurt my business at all.

flayvurdfun Posted 4 Jan 2006 , 1:55am
post #8 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cakeman66

If more people cared about getting sued, less people would buy the pans of "copyrighted characters". IF they knew they couldn't sell them.

I personally won't buy them for use to be sold, because I don't have the kind of money it takes to license them. If I'm asked to do that, I tell them go to such and such a place. I'll gladly pass up a sale of a "cheap" cake over a lawsuit anyday. Plus, I feel I have enough original ideas to get me by. It's my business, if I choose not to sell a "Mickey" cake, then they should respect that. it hasn't hurt my business at all.





here here! Couldn't agree more. icon_wink.gifthumbs_up.gif

TexasSugar Posted 6 Jan 2006 , 5:09am
post #9 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by melissaanne

Are we able to make figures of say Thomas or Bob the builder and sell them?




You can not reproduce any copyright image in any way. That includes making fondant models, buttercream transfers, colow flow plaques, edible images or any other way you can reproduce one.

melissaanne Posted 8 Jan 2006 , 9:53am

Thanks for all your help. It is so confusing when you see so many cakes that maybe breaking the copyright. I'm not too bothered by it, I'm sure I can come up with enough ideas of my own. However, I am very greatful to know what the situation is. I just like to do the right thing!
Mel

melony1976 Posted 8 Jan 2006 , 10:41am

I love doing character cakes. The kids love to see there favorite character on a cake that is dedicated to them.

poppie Posted 8 Jan 2006 , 1:23pm

Can you carve a image of a character out of cake and sell it.

MelC Posted 8 Jan 2006 , 1:37pm

Nope...we all have 0 right to reproduce for sale the copyrighted images in any way. Period.

The only character cakes I will make are for family if I'm not charging them. If I get a customer who wants characters, either I turn them down, or I will make acake for the characters to sit on, but they buy the figures & place them on themselves. (i.e I once did a Pokemon cake... all I made was the field, the custome added the plastic figures.)

PeachesMcGee Posted 8 Jan 2006 , 2:37pm

I have a crazy thought....dont know if it is legal honestly, but it is a thought. If you put on your receipt in small print that you are selling them the ingredients, but as far as the decorating you are giving that to them for free, would that work for those of you who want to sell the character cakes? After all, it is the decoration is what is copywritten. But I would run it by a lawyer first!

MelC Posted 8 Jan 2006 , 3:18pm

Won't work... if you search for other threads about copyrighs here... that option was discussed too. If you receve ANY $$ for something even closely resembling a copyrighted image, you are opening yourself up to a lawsuit.

loriemoms Posted 8 Jan 2006 , 3:28pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by MelC

Nope...we all have 0 right to reproduce for sale the copyrighted images in any way. Period.

The only character cakes I will make are for family if I'm not charging them. If I get a customer who wants characters, either I turn them down, or I will make acake for the characters to sit on, but they buy the figures & place them on themselves. (i.e I once did a Pokemon cake... all I made was the field, the custome added the plastic figures.)




That is a great idea!

loriemoms Posted 8 Jan 2006 , 3:30pm

How much exactly does it cost to get rights?

cakelady52 Posted 8 Jan 2006 , 3:45pm

Thanks for the info just this week I had someone wanting a character cake. good thing I said no. I hate making so many stars.

TexasSugar Posted 8 Jan 2006 , 9:59pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeachesMcGee

I have a crazy thought....dont know if it is legal honestly, but it is a thought. If you put on your receipt in small print that you are selling them the ingredients, but as far as the decorating you are giving that to them for free, would that work for those of you who want to sell the character cakes? After all, it is the decoration is what is copywritten. But I would run it by a lawyer first!




You are still getting paid to reproduce a copywrited image, no matter how you word it. Which is a no no.

Tuggy Posted 8 Jan 2006 , 10:15pm

@loriemoms: the point is not only the costs, because the companies will decide if you are "worth" to get the licence. But I think the costs will be really high, as I know that the licence for 30sec. mp3 music on you website will be around 1000$ a year ...

beany Posted 9 Jan 2006 , 6:13am

melissaanne,
I've seen bakeries in Western Australia that sell character cakes:

http://www.cupidsdelight.com.au/shopping/category18_2.htm

Scroll down the page to the disney princess cake. She even shows the pan! She also does winnie the pooh, spiderman etc......I wonder if she knows that it's illegal......or if she thinks that she won't get caught!

surfergina Posted 20 Jan 2006 , 4:42am

How about this: most major grocery chains have their own bakery on site and they sell character cakes. How come they didn't get sued for that???? I'm so confused....

JoAnnB Posted 20 Jan 2006 , 7:17am

Major stores can affort to pay for the right to reproduce the licensed items. The only thing you can legally sell would be the plastic items you add to a cake. If you copy the character, you break the law.

WendyVA Posted 20 Jan 2006 , 12:44pm

The grocery stores around here only sell character cakes with plastic toys on them, they do not reproduce the character in any way. Dairy Queen does draw characters on their cakes. I often see tweety bird and bugs bunny drawn on their cakes when I go in there and I wondered why they get away with that, but I had a customer call me wanting a spiderman cake that Dairy Queen wouldn't do because of copyright so apparently they pay for the liscense for Disney characters but that's all they can legally do.

surfergina Posted 20 Jan 2006 , 1:46pm

What about Food Network's Elvis Challenge Cake? They are showing his trademark on television, plus give prize money to the winner? Don't they have to get a special permission for that?

LNW Posted 20 Jan 2006 , 2:28pm

Okay Im seeing two answers here for the same question. Can you or cant you legally sell a cake that has plastic figures of the character on the cake? Ive always been told you can.

WendyVA Posted 20 Jan 2006 , 2:44pm

Yes, you can sell a cake that has plastic character toys on it. You can go to Walmart and buy a batman or whatever and put it on your cake for sale or you can buy the cake topper kits and resell those. Whomever manufactured these characters has the liscense to do so and if you purchase it then the copyright owner has made their cut. The item is yours and you can resell it if you want to.

The reason that just anyone can't buy cake toppers from some suppliers is that they only sell to liscensed bakers that collect sales tax. Wholesalers do not charge sales tax because bakeries make the final product and the sales tax is collected at that time. Otherwise some items would be taxed twice, but if they sold to people that do not collect sales tax then the items would never be taxed and the government wouldn't be getting any money at all and that is just not going to work for them! Ya know! icon_smile.gif

JoAnnB Posted 20 Jan 2006 , 7:53pm

To Surfergina-

The Food network competition is not selling the item. You can USE the copywrited images, but you cannot sell a cake with them reproduced.

I can use Mickey Mouse on a cake for my nephew, but I cannot SELL one to anyone, or use it for advertising or display.

Cakeman66 Posted 20 Jan 2006 , 8:04pm

I can't believe after 2 1/2 weeks of 'discussion" and numerous threads about this subject, people are still trying to figure out how to get around the system. Food Network has grown since they first appeared in the early 90's, They're owned by a big company, a company that has lots and lots of money. I'm betting that because they want to continue on as a company (Scripps), that not only did they talk to the right people about licensing the Elvis name, likeness, trademark etc., but they went over many more legal points, before going through with the idea.

Even in competitions on cable networks, you can't just use the name and likeness, whether you sell it or not.

All the, well how abouts, etc. come on now. The answer is no. NO! It won't change, just because of a what if I try another way...

lotsoftots Posted 20 Jan 2006 , 8:06pm

Amen, Cakeman66!

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