I'm Confused About This Whole Copyright Issue?

Business By TheCornerBakery Updated 13 Jan 2009 , 4:11pm by anivair

TheCornerBakery Posted 14 Dec 2008 , 5:45pm
post #1 of 45

Hi to all my cake peeps,

A fellow CC member sent me a forum post link today which I was very grateful for and found it to be helpful.

Having a business in Orlando, we are a tourist culture. If you look at the few photos in my gallery most of them would approach being illegal to make if I understand this copyright issue?

Florida Gator Helmet.. I am sure they own the rights to that image
Maralyn Monroe by Andy Warhol.. Dido
BMW M6..
Hello Kitty
R2D2 of course


What about using colors like Tiffany Blue? or copying a pattern of a piece of china? or making handbags etc.

What is really left to make if I have to worry that I am infringing on trademark rights and worried about a lawyer calling me about a cake I made in the past.

Thanks,
Michael Anthony

44 replies
indydebi Posted 14 Dec 2008 , 6:12pm
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Absolutely stay away from anything Disney. They are the pitbulls of protecting their copyrighted characters. Doesn't matter how big or small you are, they have folks out there whose sole purpose in life is to protect their copyright.

I recently did a Christmas Party for Home Depot and when I went to their website to get their logo for the cake, there was a notice that "This is a copyrighted image". Fortunately, I had the store's permission to use the logo, so I was ok.

TheCornerBakery Posted 14 Dec 2008 , 6:25pm
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Hey Debi,

your right about Disney. I had a women come into the store last week that wanted a Winnie the Pooh fancy smancy cake that I refused to make even when she offered to pay a substantial amount for it.

I felt like you said that it was a person that worked for them.

I am just so confused as the other things that are kind of a gray area like china patterns, dress designs if a bride wants a particular patten from her dress that you and I know has to be trademarked to that designer.. What do we do as a whole?

JenWhitlock Posted 14 Dec 2008 , 6:41pm
post #4 of 45

it's a tough one.
I just saw cakes from Cake Neaveau at the Cake Wreks blog
Her cakes are out of this world, fantastic...
but in particular I loved how she suggested the Snow White theme, without reproducing it
http://www.cakenouveau.com/pics/cake50b.jpg

JenWhitlock Posted 14 Dec 2008 , 6:56pm
post #5 of 45

oh yeah, and I did a Tinker Bell cake, where the client supplied the doll for the top...
http://www.cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=gallery&file=displayimage&pid=657663

Sweet_Guys Posted 3 Jan 2009 , 1:52pm
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When we attended ICES this summer, I attended the shopowners breakfast...One of the convention organizers works for an attorney...So, she got him to speak about trademarks and patents.

Like Indy said, Disney is a real taboo...They only deal with certain companies...In fact, my other half works for them and we bought their kitchens old chocolate molds....We've been trying to track down who would give us permission (if allowed at all) to use those molds...

The one thing the attorney said was to make sure you get in writing from the owner of the logo or image permission to use it in your cake creation....He also said that if we did a similarity, like the Tinkerbell cake noted above, and you have a photo showing how YOU gave it to the client and the client chooses to put an item on it as a topper, then the shopowner is covered.

As far as patterns and such, people have published books showing how to make purses and used veils and lace...That part I'd love to hear what others have to say about it.

Paul

CakeMakar Posted 3 Jan 2009 , 2:07pm
post #7 of 45

Tiffany Blue is definitely copyrighted. I don't know how they'd go about defending it. Obviously if you made a "ring box" cake in the color, but if it was just a tiered cake with rhinestones on it that happened to be a particular shade of blue...

FromScratch Posted 3 Jan 2009 , 2:28pm
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The name tiffany blue is copyrighted.. you can't copyright the actual color though. Now if a company were to make their boxes the same color with the same typeface as Tiffany's *that* could be prosecutable. You can't claim ownership of a color.

Carolynlovescake Posted 3 Jan 2009 , 2:34pm
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If the item carries one of the following symbols then it is protected ( ©, ®, ) and avoid reproducing the image like the black plague unless you have written permission from the copyright owner. If it doesn't have the symbol (by law they don't) and you know it's a copyrighted image still avoid it.

Avoid anything Disney forever and ever amen. I'd even be in fear of doing that Snow White cake above. They are beyond pit bulls when it comes to their copyrights and trademarks.

Also, photo's are copyrighted to the photographer. If someone wants a photo of a Senior picture for graduation, wedding photo for an anniversary etc. if the photographer finds out they can legally go after you. I have a letter I fax over to them explaining that one of their photos has been requested to be replicated on an edible frosting sheet and since they own the rights to the picture may I please with their permission use it. Most of the time the studio/photographer calls asking for pictures so he can show it off. I've even had them offer to waive a setting fee for me and/or asked for business cards to hand out.

As for colors, yes Tiffany has their color copyrighted. I can't tell you how many times I've come close to that color by complete accident. I am sure you would be fine using that color on any cake as long as you didn't use it to look like a jewlery box of any kind.

For anyone insiting on doing a copyrighted image I tell them to purchase the decorative for the top and I'll mark on the cake where it goes but I will not put it permanently on the cake for them. They can do that when they get there. (But when it's assembled at my place to be sure everything looks ok, and it's going to stay in it's spot I am clicking pictures! haha)

CakeMakar Posted 3 Jan 2009 , 3:14pm
post #10 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeMakar

Tiffany Blue is definitely copyrighted. I don't know how they'd go about defending it. Obviously if you made a "ring box" cake in the color, but if it was just a tiered cake with rhinestones on it that happened to be a particular shade of blue...




From the Tiffany's website:
as well as the TIFFANY BLUE BOX and the color TIFFANY BLUE are trademarks of Tiffany (NJ) Inc. and/or its affiliates and are used under license.

glendaleAZ Posted 3 Jan 2009 , 4:46pm
post #11 of 45

This is GREAT information, thank you all for your input.

I would guess that the "same" would go for beer cakes? Are there any beer companies that are as strict at Disney?

Tammy

kelleym Posted 3 Jan 2009 , 5:21pm
post #12 of 45
Quote:
Quote:

I would guess that the "same" would go for beer cakes? Are there any beer companies that are as strict at Disney?




Assuming their logos/labels are trademarked/copyrighted, then the same laws protect them that protect Disney. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that NO one is as strict as Disney when it comes to protecting their intellectual property. icon_rolleyes.gif They threatened to sue a stonemason for carving an image of Winnie the Pooh on a stillborn infant's grave (but backed off due to bad press). They do not mess around.

CakeMakar Posted 3 Jan 2009 , 5:23pm
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There was a great (LONG) thread about copyrights. I can't find it. I wonder if we lost it in the crash. It was pages upon pages and people who had copyright experiences, copyright legal people, and I think even some companies weighed in. Perhaps Jan would have a link to it?

Basically, if you're going to sell the cake don't bother with any copyrighted items. It's just not worth the hassle and huge fines. You're not even allowed to do something similar. If you make the Guinness logo, but change it all to blue or make Elmo but make him 20% different...it's all the same. If someone looks at it and says "Hey, that's that one character" you're treading on dangerous water.

However, if you're not selling the cake, just making it for a friend or family or ?? It's perfectly fine. You're not allowed to charge "just for supplies" either.

CakeMakar Posted 3 Jan 2009 , 5:25pm
post #14 of 45
Quote:
Quote:

threatened to sue a stonemason




Wow! icon_confused.gif

indydebi Posted 3 Jan 2009 , 8:44pm
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Here's one I had in my file - a 7-pager: (I had more but there are no longer valid .... lost in the crash) .....

http://forum.cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopic-311663-0.html

TheCornerBakery Posted 3 Jan 2009 , 8:55pm
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Thanks to all of you who took the time to post on this thread. I have a clearer understanding on what I can and can't do.

Michael

Juds2323 Posted 4 Jan 2009 , 5:36am
post #17 of 45

I had a question. I noticed that there are a ton of character cakes that are done by places outside the US. Do the same copyright laws not apply there or is it just harder for the places to prosecute overseas?

Judi

shanasweets Posted 4 Jan 2009 , 5:57am
post #18 of 45

I was recently at a ices day of sharing that discussed some of these issues, and one of the decorators there is also an attorny, I asked about 2 issues directly.

1. Can I make a cake based on a folk tale, (I had just bought a book), she said it is public domain, but it cannot resemble disney's version of the characters.

2. Can I purchase an item, toy etc and place it. She said yes, I asked if the customer had to specifically place the item and she said no.

It sure is hard to understand the where the lines are in all this.

cblupe Posted 4 Jan 2009 , 6:18am
post #19 of 45

I was told it was ok to sell a person the cake box and just give them the cake that is inside of it for character cakes that Wilton sells.

FromScratch Posted 4 Jan 2009 , 2:37pm
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Please.. anyone who would try to pull that one off needs their head examined. No judge would buy that and any lawyer worth their degree would have a field day with you. icon_confused.gif

indydebi Posted 4 Jan 2009 , 2:59pm
post #21 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by cblupe

I was told it was ok to sell a person the cake box and just give them the cake that is inside of it for character cakes that Wilton sells.




Sounds like advice that would be given out by The Kitchen Table Legal Team. icon_lol.gif

Denise Posted 4 Jan 2009 , 3:51pm
post #22 of 45

I believe that Tiffany Blue as named as a color ie "this is Tiffany Blue" on this ring box can be copywrited as a term to discribe this color but just about every paint company has a color in their spectrum that is the same color as Tiffany Blue. I work for Sherwin Williams and I know we have colors that are exactly like that!

As far as copywrited stuff - I will not do character cakes except for family or for my best friends grandchildren as gifts. I had some young lady call me asking about a Mickey Mouse cake that I did with mouse ears and I was kinda surprised when she described it as it is NOT on my website. Turns out she is a friend of my nieces and my niece told her about the cake. I told her the same thing I tell everyone else - sorry - can't do it!

kakeladi Posted 4 Jan 2009 , 6:07pm
post #23 of 45

........I was told it was ok to sell a person the cake box and just give them the cake that is inside of it for character cakes that Wilton sells.......

No, NO NO, a thousand times **NO!!!!!!**

If a *any* item is brought into court and it is held up and everyone is asked "Do you recognize this (person, thing, etc) and there is so much as one yes, they it is copyright infringement - *Case closed!*

CakeMakar Posted 4 Jan 2009 , 6:07pm
post #24 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by cblupe

I was told it was ok to sell a person the cake box and just give them the cake that is inside of it for character cakes that Wilton sells.



Sounds like advice that would be given out by The Kitchen Table Legal Team. icon_lol.gif




Hahaha! I like it! Though you couldn't pay me enough to do one of those cakes anyways. icon_razz.gif

glendaleAZ Posted 4 Jan 2009 , 6:28pm
post #25 of 45

Thank you indydebi for the second thread - more food-for-thought information.

Sneezie Posted 4 Jan 2009 , 6:30pm
post #26 of 45

I am still confused.

Is it ok to use the Wilton pans to make the character cakes?
Is it ok to put the deco packs on the cake?
So, if I understand this right you can't reproduce a character out of gumpaste/fondant, etc.? It is ok to do it for free for a family member/friend?
In simple terms, what exactly are the rules?
I am still new to this and I want to be clear on what I can and can't do.
Thanks bunches!!!

indydebi Posted 4 Jan 2009 , 6:34pm
post #27 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sneezie

I am still confused.

Is it ok to use the Wilton pans to make the character cakes?
Is it ok to put the deco packs on the cake?
So, if I understand this right you can't reproduce a character out of gumpaste/fondant, etc.? It is ok to do it for free for a family member/friend?
In simple terms, what exactly are the rules?
I am still new to this and I want to be clear on what I can and can't do.
Thanks bunches!!!




You cannot make money on a copyrighted character unless you pay the owner of the copyright a licensing or other kind of compensating fee, or unless you have written permission.

You cannot reproduce the character in any shape or medium ..... icing, gumpaste, FBCT, edible image, etc ... without the conditions in the above paragraph.

The character pans state clearly they are for home use only, meaning you can make one for your daughter or your nephew .... for free .... but they are not for commercial use.

Sneezie Posted 4 Jan 2009 , 6:39pm
post #28 of 45

Are the deco packs ok? You know the plastic kits you buy, or toy figures.

indydebi Posted 4 Jan 2009 , 6:48pm
post #29 of 45

My understanding is that deco pac is the only (?) company licensed for all of those characters. The price you pay for the kit includes the licensing fee to resell it.

can anyone clarify if the licensing means you can only make the cakes as shown in the decopac catalog? No freelancing? I'm unclear on that and dont' want to give out false info.

kelleym Posted 4 Jan 2009 , 6:52pm
post #30 of 45

Some other copyright threads:

So what's legal and what isn't?
copyright?

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