Hi, I live south of Boston, MA and have been making my kids birthday cakes now for six years. Some friends have been encouraging me to start selling them for some extra money. My initial thought was to make up flyers displaying some of the cakes I have made and distributing them to the various nursery school, daycare centers, etc in town.
But now by perusing this sight I see its not so easy huh? I understand I have to contact the MA dept of Health for guidance and get licensed? I also had a question about using the Wilton character cake pans. I had seen someone post about copy written cakes and how you cannot sell those for profit? Are these pans what was being referred to? For example, some of the pans I currently have are Elmo, C-3PO, PowerRanges, Thomas the Tank Engine, etc. These are the cakes I was thinking about selling as I am pretty good at decorating them (but the only free hand cake I ever made was Buzz Lightyear's spaceship.) Any info would be GREATLY appreciated.
I don't think it's ever as easy as it seems. Here's some residential kitchen Q&As for your state...
And whether you freehand or use a pan, copyrighted/trademarked character cakes of that type cannot be sold.
All licensed character shaped pans, candy molds and cookie cutters are for consumer home use only. Stores/Shops/Decorators cannot make cakes, cookies or candies from licensed products and sell them to consumers. These "mold-making" items are strictly prohibited from any type of commercial use since the licensor has neither the method to control the quality of the reproduction of the character nor the ability to earn royalties on sales of the "made" products. This applies to both baked & craft-type products.
Free-hand or copies of character designs cannot be drawn or iced on top of a cake, cupcakes or cookies and sold for any type of commercial purpose. Once again, the licensor cannot control the quality & is not earning a royalty on the product created around their characters.
Licensed pans cannot be rented to consumers by shops/stores/decorators since, once again, the licensor is not earning a royalty from the transaction.
Specifically, creating any type of image that looks like a licensed character that then is sold for commercial purposes is prohibited unless there is a specific licensing agreement with the licensor for that product and royalties are paid each time the product is sold.
Additionally- A customer cannot bring a decorator or store/shop a character pan/mold they have bought, and ask them to make the cake/candy/cookie in exchange for money. This is considered the same thing as above, because money is exchanging hands without the licensor earning royalties.
There are stiff monetary penalties for breaking copyright laws- I have seen fine $$ amounts into the tens of thousands being discussed here & there on the internet. It's best not to take the chance, if you have a choice. Do a bear instead of Pooh. Don't use copyrighted images in advertising your business.