Is This Common?

Business By kellertur Updated 15 Apr 2009 , 4:34am by LaBellaFlor

kellertur Posted 13 Apr 2009 , 6:31pm
post #1 of 39

Recently I sat down with a couple who had me design a cake "just for them", including some portrait work, etc... LOTS of original design work and sugar sculpture, original drawings incorporated. I even signed the design.

Anway ~ I received a call from them a few days ago telling me they took MY design to another decorator who quoted them a lower price! icon_eek.gificon_mad.gif Is this kind of thing customary? I think it's rude and kind of sneaky. -- unless the bride is lying. icon_confused.gif

I'm not talking about borrowing someone's idea/changing things, etc... inspiration, but this cake was custom designed with portraits, hand drawings, etc... LOTS of planning on my part.

I had no idea this business was so cut-throat. thumbsdown.gif (I'm not blaming the decorator, but if someone brought me *someone else's* drawing/sketch, I would say: "Let me make my own sketch based on what you'd like, I can't use someone else's orig. drawings". )

38 replies
Auryn Posted 13 Apr 2009 , 6:34pm
post #2 of 39

next time don't give them the sketch.
the design is your property and theres no reason for them to have it until after they have paid a non refundable deposit otherwise things like this will happen.

unfortunately it happens in all industries.

__Jamie__ Posted 13 Apr 2009 , 6:37pm
post #3 of 39

I have a sketch template, one for round, square, and one for mixed. I have my biz name letterhead style across the top, and watermarked very lightly through the middle. Even if it doesn't deter another baker, at least if they have a friggin conscious it will bother the he** out of them every time they see my name all over the sketch they are copying!! icon_biggrin.gif

kellertur Posted 13 Apr 2009 , 6:38pm
post #4 of 39

You have a point... I guess I trusted (foolishly) that they would return it to me like I asked. Live and learn, I suppose. icon_redface.gif

juleebug Posted 13 Apr 2009 , 6:41pm
post #5 of 39

If the other decorator uses her exact design created from her signed sketches, wouldn't that be theft of intelectual property?

edited to correct spelling

msulli10 Posted 13 Apr 2009 , 6:42pm
post #6 of 39

I would ask for the design back letting them know that you do not give your consent for another decorator to use your design.

indydebi Posted 13 Apr 2009 , 6:43pm
post #7 of 39

You are so right it happens in other industries. Father in law ran a garage for 60 years. Someone would bring a car in and would need 3 estimates (insurance claim). FIL would go thru the car, checking everything out and making his list. He would THEN tell the guy to take it to the two other places and come back for the estimate. Reason? He had just spent 2 hours of valuable time going thru the car looking for everything that was wrong. He was NOT handing that work over so the car owner could take it to another garage, who would just go down the list and do a price comparison, which would eat up maybe 20 minutes of his time. His attitude was "Let the other guy work for it just like I am!"

KawaiiCakeCook Posted 13 Apr 2009 , 6:47pm
post #8 of 39

Oh sweetie that stinks, I'm sorry. Comparison shopping is common, but they just used you. I'd be livid!

ButtercupMama Posted 13 Apr 2009 , 6:49pm
post #9 of 39

Weeeelllll, I think this gives you a good opportunity to decide if you offer free custom design services.
Right off the bat, if someone did this to me, I would not be thrilled that they used me for the design, and took up my time, then tried to undercut me. I would certainly not agree to make the cake at a lower price, just to be the lowest bidder. I have had to tell people that "we don't haggle". (they are not at a swap meet, ya know?) I would have said that my prices are firm, but they should do what they feel is right for them. (They clearly would prefer you to make the cake; just want a lower price. They may have to choose someone less skilled or with lower quality cake, to meet their budget.)

I personally offer one free consultation at which, I make a color sketch, and begin writing up an unsigned contract. I make a copy of the whole thing for them to take with them whether they book with me at that time, or not. They are free to take my design elsewhere, and I'm sure many have. This does not bother me, as I offer it as a free service. The design/sketch is theirs to keep.

You may decide to charge for a consultation which includes a sketch. There is a shop in my area that charges a $50 consultation fee. Perhaps, you could also offer the consultation fee as a credit toward the cake if they book it! That way, no money is lost in the future.

It is a personal type of subject; especially if you really throw yourself into it, and become attached to your design. Ultimately, you call the shots! Definitely give it some thought, and decide what you can live with! Good luck!!


icon_smile.gificon_smile.gif

juleebug Posted 13 Apr 2009 , 6:51pm
post #10 of 39

My husband had the same issue building custom computer systems. He would get all the info of what they wanted the system to do and then do a detailed spec list of what was needed with prices.
After 5 or 6 people took his spec list and built their systems through D*ll with it, he stopped giving out the list. Now, he just gives them a price.
If they don't like it they can go to D*ll (and he'll see them in a couple of months when the system D*ll sold them won't do what they said it would.)

indydebi Posted 13 Apr 2009 , 6:52pm
post #11 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by __Jamie__

I have a sketch template, one for round, square, and one for mixed. I have my biz name letterhead style across the top, and watermarked very lightly through the middle. Even if it doesn't deter another baker, at least if they have a friggin conscious it will bother the he** out of them every time they see my name all over the sketch they are copying!! icon_biggrin.gif




Never assume. icon_rolleyes.gif

And all I mean is that brides bring me photos and sketches all the time. Usually they pull the sketch out and say, "I drew this up....." I can't say I've ever been handed one that was made specifically for a bride by another cake person. But if they did, to be honest, I'd probably think the cake person just printed something generic off of their computer, like I do with my 'stick-people" cake drawings.

I see names on pics of cakes all the time. The bride has browsed the internet and/or magazines and brought me pics to show me "this is the kind of cake I want". There's only so many ways to wrap a ribbon around a cake with dots on the side, so I'm at a loss as to how to tell a bride, "Sorry ... you can't have that cake because someone else made it."

I've used pics from Pink Cake Box and from Collette Peters without having ANY idea that's where the cake came from. The bride just brought me a picture and said, "I want this cake."

Seriously, how do you guys handle that? I see a lot of folks who say they won't duplicate a cake. I always tell the bride "Guaranteed NOT to look exactly like the picture", but let's get real .... there's only so many ways to wrap a ribbon around a cake. icon_confused.gif

notjustcake Posted 13 Apr 2009 , 6:52pm
post #12 of 39

Hey times are hard we gotta look for the cheapest price on everything, but think of it as lesson learned "don't ever let them walk away" with YOUR sketch sorry this happened, and yes it is slimy for her to make you waste your time just to make a sketch for her, perhaps the cheaper baker will not make her cake better perhaps the cake might look "cheaper" icon_lol.gif

tonedna Posted 13 Apr 2009 , 6:52pm
post #13 of 39

Yeah...this happens more often than you think..I would hold to my own sketches. At the end of the day is your property. You can give the sketch to them if they give a deposit for the cake. At least if they decide to go to another person, your work and sketching time was paid for..
Edna icon_smile.gif

__Jamie__ Posted 13 Apr 2009 , 6:58pm
post #14 of 39

Oh yeah Indy...so right, no, not assuming anything. I would feel wrong doing it, but that's the price you pay for having feelings of right and wrong....ahhhhh.

How many different ways can you wrap a ribbon....lol, exactly. Wedding I did this weekend was truly a generic design, done a thousand times I am sure, but I sure did knock the piping outta the ballpark, if I do say so myself (patting own back cause I usually stink at piping! icon_biggrin.gif ). I so do love the gals that have made some nice design choices....later this year! Can't wait to make them! icon_smile.gif

indydebi Posted 13 Apr 2009 , 7:06pm
post #15 of 39

Dont' get me wrong ... if I KNEW this was what the couple were doing when they handed me a sketch, I'd tell them I couldn't really use THAT sketch. It just seems like such a gray area .... I can't see myself telling a bride what kind of cake she will or wont' have, ya know?

tonedna Posted 13 Apr 2009 , 7:12pm
post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Dont' get me wrong ... if I KNEW this was what the couple were doing when they handed me a sketch, I'd tell them I couldn't really use THAT sketch. It just seems like such a gray area .... I can't see myself telling a bride what kind of cake she will or wont' have, ya know?





Grey are for real!...You are doing a cake to satisfy the couple..so its really a tough one. I think still the best way is not let that couple walk out with a sketch of the cake if they are not giving a deposit..
Edna icon_smile.gif

kellertur Posted 13 Apr 2009 , 7:16pm
post #17 of 39

I took a photograph of my sketch, and printed out a copy for my record. I atleast did that much~ not that it makes any differenct.
I feel stupid because in my professional (non-cake) art life I would NEVER give away original sculpture or drawing to ANYONE without payment... WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING??? icon_redface.gif

This is obviously MY work (not that I'm well known, but I'm the only decorator in the area (possibly the state) that does 3-D cake portait work). So, I'd LOVE to see how this cake decorator translates my design since their specialty is traditional wedding cakes). This is THE first time anyone has ever asked me to do a portrait-type cake for a wedding, so ofcourse my price was WAY up there. They will probably get one of those generic "doll faces" and make a mold (I never use molds)... sorry, I'm still racing with adrenaline from being so stupid! dunce.gif

solascakes Posted 13 Apr 2009 , 7:26pm
post #18 of 39

OHH i would ask for my sketch back though,that is so rude.

kellertur Posted 14 Apr 2009 , 2:57am
post #19 of 39

Lesson learned.

classiccake Posted 14 Apr 2009 , 3:25am
post #20 of 39

Hey, experience is the best teacher. We have all had those AHAA moments...I will never do THAT again!

Bite the dust...if you ask for it back, they will just make a copy of it before they return it, if they haven't already.

I did the same thing and got caught. Now, when I make sketches, I tell them that this will go in the file with their proposal. Usually they don't question that. But if they do ask for the sketch, I simply explain that the sketch is my property until the cake is booked. They don't question that.

Everybody copies ideas and designs from magazines, etc. How can you copyright all the 10,387 photos of cakes with ribbon? I talked to Colette Peters at an ICES Convention about this issue. At the Shop Owners meeting that AM, a copyright attorney had spoken to us so the topic was hot. Colette said that she knows her designs are copied. She said she even gives directions and illustrations for "How-to" in her books. What she gets upset about is when they use her design to market a product. Someone copied one of her cake designs into a cookie jar and were selling it without her permission. She took them to court and won. So she said, make cakes, but don't make another product with my design.

Technically every design in a book or magazine is copyrighted. I have had many photos in a local magazine. I know those cakes show up everywhere. I have seen "copies" at sites where there is more than one wedding going on! But what got me riled up is when a competitor opened another store on the same street my shop is on...about 5 miles down the road. Fine, I can handle that. BUT, when the ad came out in the local paper for the grand opening, the only cake in the ad was a replica of a wedding cake I had in this magazine...except they added another set of pillars.
GRRRRR. icon_mad.gif make the cake, but don't put my design in your ad when you are in my neighborhood. I did not take action, but the ad is in my file, if needed!

arosstx Posted 14 Apr 2009 , 3:32am
post #21 of 39

No sketch leaves me unless the cake is booked. Then I make them a copy to take, keeping the original for reference.

all4cake Posted 14 Apr 2009 , 3:33am
post #22 of 39

If they're still in the browsing stage and you created a design just for them and you'd like to keep it with you until they've decided and remain tactful, say something like, "This is what I would be able to offer you. I know ya'll are still looking so, after you've seen the other decorators' sketches and you've had the opportunity to taste the various cakes ya'll should be comfortable enough to make a decision. I would love the opportunity to create this cake for your big day. I do appreciate you considering me for the task. (as you're shaking hands...) I hope to hear from ya'll soon."

I give them my sketches and urge them to take them to any and all bakeries on their list. If they never came back, it wouldn't hurt my feelings because I gave them the sketch and know that they're still in the checking around stage. I have, however, changed up my routine....after they've had a tasting(either I drop off samples along with sample pricing and some of the variants listed out or a sit down tasting where we discuss some of the basic pricing their budget...) and they've decided to go with me, we then meet again to finalize the cake design...that's when the sketch if required is done along with a deposit. I keep the sketch until cake delivery or when anniversary tier certificate and thank you/congratulations card is mailed out. I scan a copy of it for my records so I'll know what to make the following year.

-K8memphis Posted 14 Apr 2009 , 3:40am
post #23 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by juleebug

If the other decorator uses her exact design created from her signed sketches, wouldn't that be theft of intelectual property?

edited to correct spelling




Not if she handed it to 'em.

all4cake Posted 14 Apr 2009 , 3:48am
post #24 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by k8memphis

Quote:
Originally Posted by juleebug

If the other decorator uses her exact design created from her signed sketches, wouldn't that be theft of intelectual property?

edited to correct spelling



Not if she handed it to 'em.




Why would it not be if she handed it to them? If an artist gifted me a painting(signed or not) and I then took it to a print shop and had them reproduce it into posters wouldn't that count just as much as someone buying the item and reproducing it(buying a coloring book and reproducing its' contents)? Just asking...

-K8memphis Posted 14 Apr 2009 , 3:53am
post #25 of 39

I've never had a problem copying someone else's photograph of their cake because I was raised on Wilton yearbooks. That's all I did was copy. So in that way to me it's just fine to copy cake photographs

Now I had one bride who wanted me to copy a cake (dummy) from a local bakery--that did not set well with me at all. I whipped out my, "you get my rendition of that thought." I mean I never saw the cake--she described it and it would not have looked anything like the one in the bakery probably.

But I generally list the specific inspiration for the cake if there is one. I have at least two on my site, the caterpillar and the Kerry Vincent--both noted.

That's how I do it.

-K8memphis Posted 14 Apr 2009 , 4:01am
post #26 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by all4cake

Quote:
Originally Posted by k8memphis

Quote:
Originally Posted by juleebug

If the other decorator uses her exact design created from her signed sketches, wouldn't that be theft of intelectual property?

edited to correct spelling



Not if she handed it to 'em.



Why would it not be if she handed it to them? If an artist gifted me a painting(signed or not) and I then took it to a print shop and had them reproduce it into posters wouldn't that count just as much as someone buying the item and reproducing it(buying a coloring book and reproducing its' contents)? Just asking...




Because she just gave it to them.
Printing the image/s is different than creating something from it.
The valid point that's already been made is don't give it to 'em.

I don't even give my brides' a copy of the cake order if there's no money changing hands. I give them a post-it with the price on it. Go start over somewhere else & waste the next caker's time. It's a small post it too. icon_biggrin.gif

crazycaker Posted 14 Apr 2009 , 2:34pm
post #27 of 39

I'm sorry this happened to you.

A few thoughts...

1) Make your own album, # the pages. Treat your sketches like a term paper -- give them footnotes. When doing a sketch, write "As shown on top tier in my album, p. 4" Don't be too specific on the sketch.
2) Same with copying other cake artists' work -- I buy the books. It's the professional thing to do. I don't print out internet pictures, period. Buying books keeps publishers in business, keeps cake artists in business, and encourages more cake books to be published. My clients are always impressed to see the "library" I have for them. I write, "as shown in P. Porchen book, p. 101" Again -- givng proper credit (Peggy WANTS us to use her book designs), plus, another baker is going to have a heck of a time trying to track down that page.
3) I do some quick mock-ups with colored pencils, for but the details I "cite" my own album and my own library.

They are welcome to take any and all sketches -- and my design is protected, while being specific enought that I can flip open the book, and see in full color what we talked about when I'm ready to ice.

Hope that helps! thumbs_up.gif

CakeForte Posted 14 Apr 2009 , 6:16pm
post #28 of 39

I haven't read all of the posts s I don't know hat the consensus is.....but you could inform them that you own the copyright so they do not have permission to use that design and that you will pursue any legal action against them and the baker if they do. However they are more than welcome to purchase the design from you for $xxx.

The scenario you explained is exactly why the first meeting is strictly a generic tasting/ consult/ give a price quote. I do not do any other work except that. Once they pay a 50% non-refundable deposit, then custom sketch sessions take place.

bakery_chick Posted 14 Apr 2009 , 6:51pm
post #29 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

I always tell the bride "Guaranteed NOT to look exactly like the picture", but let's get real .... there's only so many ways to wrap a ribbon around a cake. icon_confused.gif




so true. I try to personalize every cake I do, but some designs are really simple and there isn't much you can do with it.

cocorum21 Posted 14 Apr 2009 , 7:22pm
post #30 of 39

I don't know if this option was given or not but If you are doing all the work sketch the cake and let them approve the design with their initials. ONLY give the sketch once they have placed their NON-REFUNDABLE deposit. This way if they want to take the sketch elsewhere atleast you were paid for the sketch.

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