Copyright On Cakes?

Business By GeordieMum Updated 1 Feb 2010 , 10:26pm by GeordieMum

GeordieMum Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 12:09am
post #1 of 33

Hi all,

Am hoping you can help me with a quick (but newbie!) question.

I have just received my very first order (yay!) for an engagement cake. It came through a friend of a friend and I'm so excited to be doing a cake for profit for once! icon_wink.gif

Anyway, the picture the client has sent me is from a well-known bakery here in town and she would like an exact copy - except changing the colours. This might seem like a daft question but can I do an exact copy of this cake without getting into trouble with the bakery? Since I am just starting my business I would like to put the finished photos of the cake on my website and on Facebook etc and I know it's a very slim chance that they would happen to come across it - but can I get into any (legal or otherwise) trouble from doing a copy of their cake?

(Note: This bakery has all there pictures on their website - and I believe the client actually got a quote from the bakery also).

Many thanks everyone - and again sorry for such a newbie question!

Happy Baking,
Geordie xx

32 replies
Texas_Rose Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 12:38am
post #2 of 33

I've heard of people trying to copyright a cake, but not heard of anyone succeeding.

Some people might say it's not fair to the bakery for you to do an exact copy of their work for a lower price, but it's not a legal question, just a moral one.

A good compromise might be to do a cake in the same general style, with some touches on it that make it your own design rather than the bakery's. You'll want to do something that sets you apart from them, other than price, in the long run anyhow icon_biggrin.gif

leah_s Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 1:09am
post #3 of 33

Trying to copy a cake *exactly* is fairly impossible anyway, but making what would be an obvious copy of a well known bakery's cake, especially at a lower price is simply not right in my world. I would not do that sort of thing.

glendaleAZ Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 1:16am
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Charm City cakes will do an exact replica of a cake out of a book. They did one with green horizontal stripes, maybe you've saw the episode (I think it was in season 3 or 4).

I don't think any bakery that would turn down an order just because they didn't design the cake. If you wanted, you could put some kind of comment under the picture that gave credit to the bakery, BUT how would you know for sure that they didnt make the cake from a picture provided by the customer. I say go for it, and I think that theres many on here that would say the same thing.

KimLynnC Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 2:05am
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I don't think there is anything wrong with it, most people who order a cake bring in a picture of a cake they found online or in a book or magazine anyways. If that's the cake they want and they came to you to do it then I say go for it and I don't see how it can possibly be illegal to copy a cake.

leah_s Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 2:14am
post #6 of 33

[quote="glendaleAZ"]

I don't think any bakery that would turn down an order just because they didn't design the cake. [/quote]

I have. I do. And I will.

glendaleAZ Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 2:37am
post #7 of 33

leah_s I respect how you feel, and maybe I should have been more specific. I was referring to larger bakeries, like Charm City. I not sure if you own a large bakery, but I would think that when you have such a large overhead you'd take any and all orders from paying customer's - even a customers that want you to make a cake from a picture. I personally would be flattered that my design was so great that someone would try to copy it. In the end this is only my opinion, and I'm sorry if I offended you in any way.

SallyBratt Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 5:01am
post #8 of 33

I would also turn it down but it's really a personal thing. It's like my artwork...I wont copy from someone else's art. Having said that...I am doing a cake for a friend's son's b'day with some well known cartoon characters on it. I'm designing the cake but I'm not designing the theme or the characters...but I'm also not going to post it on my FB group page or my site when I get it running.

I might put it on Flickr tho.

thecookieladycc Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 5:08am
post #9 of 33

I feel the same way as SallyBratt. I just had a consultation with a bride who brought me some picts of some cakes she got off of the internet. I told her that I would not copy the cake, but we could pull some ideas off of it and make it her own. I respect others cake artist work and understand the time and creativity it took to come up with that design. Besides, who wants a cake that looks just like one someone else already had? Each client is different, there for each cake is different. I don't duplicate my own cakes either. But that is just me.

MnSnow Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 2:28pm
post #10 of 33

Here's another thought--

If your website is copyrighted and your pictures of cakes are on that site--are they protected under that copyright?

TexasSugar Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 3:42pm
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Pictures can be copyrighted, meaning you cna't take a picture from someone's website and post it on yours with out their permission.

You can not copyright a cake design, so legally there is nothing saying you can't use that picture from someone's website as the base idea for your cake. How do you know they didn't borrow the idea from someone else? Isn't that what many people do here at CC? See a cake they like and try copy it as best they can?

What it comes down to is a personal choice. Do you feel comfortable doing a cake design the other company has done?

I don't think coping a design takes any less talent than coming up with your own. Some of us are just not cake designers. I can take ideas from cakes and pull them into my own idea, but I have a hard time coming up with a design from nothing. It takes talent to decorate a cake, weither it is using someone elses design or your own.

cheatize Posted 28 Jan 2010 , 6:39am
post #12 of 33

Wouldn't cake design fall under intellectual property?

madgeowens Posted 28 Jan 2010 , 6:59am
post #13 of 33

A little girl showed me a pic of a cake she found on the internet that she likes for her birthday, I told her I would not copy it but I would try and use some of those elements in it, to me that was the right thing to do, but I have no idea if thats right or not icon_smile.gif just my personal thing....I think it would be a compliment to me if someone copied a cake of mine, but then I am not in business, so thats a BIG difference in opinionI would say also. Boy I am gabby tonight lol

ayerim979 Posted 28 Jan 2010 , 7:36am
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I totally agree.

If someone copy's a desighn from someone else (guilty) you must give credit to that person, wether or not they are the person that came up with the desighn. I think its polite to recognize them because god knows what they probably went thrue to desighn and execute that creation.

cakedesire Posted 29 Jan 2010 , 5:53am
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GeordieMum,
All I can say is how many "artists" learn by copying the likes of Van Gogh, and Picasso? Coping is how we learn, that is why we watch shows like cake boss and ace of cakes; not only are they intertaning to us but we learn so much from them! And I thought that was what cake central was about, SHARING all our wonderful ideas! I agree that you should give credit were credit is due, but bottom line I would be flattered if someone copied my work. Best of luck to you!

step0nmi Posted 29 Jan 2010 , 6:04am
post #16 of 33

I do specify to my customers (when I have some) that "I can't copy a cake exactly but can try...how about putting some of your own personal touches on it though? " that makes them think about what they would really like in a cake. if you are asking here then you are probably thinking your morals say to not copy a cake exactly icon_wink.gif

Mabma80 Posted 29 Jan 2010 , 6:43pm
post #17 of 33

I don't see what the big deal is. They have magazines dedicated to wedding cakes that are meant to be looked at and potentially made for a wedding. It's the same thing when you are looking for a wedding dress. You can't afford the designer, so you take the pattern to a seamtress and have it made for less.

Do it!

step0nmi Posted 29 Jan 2010 , 6:46pm
post #18 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mabma80

I don't see what the big deal is. They have magazines dedicated to wedding cakes that are meant to be looked at and potentially made for a wedding. It's the same thing when you are looking for a wedding dress. You can't afford the designer, so you take the pattern to a seamtress and have it made for less.

Do it!




I agree with this...but this is from someone's website....and also the pressure is there to make it "exactly" like that one. I really don't like that kind of pressure on me to make a cake because I am not perfect, so it just leaves a little room for error and uniqueness icon_smile.gif

Mabma80 Posted 29 Jan 2010 , 6:50pm
post #19 of 33

Ok...step0nmi...I see your point. Maybe you should tell/suggest to them, if it's not to late, that they make it a little more unique to their event. That way, there wont be the pressure of making it exactly. If it's to late, then hence forth have people come to you with "IDEAS" for their cake. As opposed to one picture that they want exactly duplicated.
Like there used to be a cake show on WeTv and the guy said that he asks his clients to bring a folder of ideas. Maybe their invitations, pictures, fabrics, etc to help him get an idea of what to do.

LNW Posted 29 Jan 2010 , 7:00pm
post #20 of 33

ITA with steponmi. I wouldnt offer to copy the cake exactly just because you may not be able to pull it off. Not to say you arent talented enough to do it, Ive looked at your pictures and youre a great decorator. But if you promise to make it exactly like the cake shes asking for then you better deliver that exact same cake. Thats pretty hard to do no matter how skilled you are.

I would tell her you cant duplicate it exactly but this is what you can do, and go from there. If you plan to show this picture off I would give credit to the original designer (or who you assume is the original designer). Anytime I copy a cake from CC, a book, online etc I ALWAYS put the name of the poster/person that came up with it. That person may have copied it from somewhere else, I dont know, but I give them the credit. Thats just common courtesy.

dailey Posted 29 Jan 2010 , 7:13pm
post #21 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by step0nmi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mabma80

I don't see what the big deal is. They have magazines dedicated to wedding cakes that are meant to be looked at and potentially made for a wedding. It's the same thing when you are looking for a wedding dress. You can't afford the designer, so you take the pattern to a seamtress and have it made for less.

Do it!



I agree with this...but this is from someone's website....and also the pressure is there to make it "exactly" like that one. I really don't like that kind of pressure on me to make a cake because I am not perfect, so it just leaves a little room for error and uniqueness icon_smile.gif




i agree! if someone wants me to duplicate a design i *always* say i can do something "similair" mainly because i want to give myself room for error, if need be, lol!

as far as duplicating another decorators work? big deal. its silly because the cake will "not" be an exact anyways because we all have our own sense of style.

SallyBratt Posted 30 Jan 2010 , 7:25pm
post #22 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakedesire

GeordieMum,
All I can say is how many "artists" learn by copying the likes of Van Gogh, and Picasso? Coping is how we learn, that is why we watch shows like and ace of cakes; not only are they intertaning to us but we learn so much from them! And I thought that was what cake central was about, SHARING all our wonderful ideas! I agree that you should give credit were credit is due, but bottom line I would be flattered if someone copied my work. Best of luck to you!




I'm an artist and I went to art school...we did not learn by copying other artists. We learned by copying styles but not by copying actual works of art. There's a big difference.

And the other difference is learning from copying as opposed to copying and then selling it as your own. I could never copy someone else's art and say it was mine anymore than I could copy someone else's cake design and say it was mine. It's just not ethical.

Using designs from books that are dedicated to teaching techniques is completely different. the designers who put their designs in those books expect people to be recreating them.

There's a lot of grey area in this but coming from years of working in the publishing industry and knowing a lot about copyright and what's legal/ethical and what's not...copying someone's design verbatim, whether it's artwork, graphic design, or cake design... and not crediting the original designer is not ethical. Having said that, if you use someone else's design (or a variety of designs) as inspiration to create your own design then there's absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Loucinda Posted 30 Jan 2010 , 8:06pm
post #23 of 33

I am with dailey - and IMO, there are only so many ways one can decorate a cake. How do you know where THAT bakery got the design idea? Are you going to research each and every cake to see exactly where the idea originated? Give credit if you know where it came from, but I would not turn down an order just for that reason. You are not going to replicate it exactly - each decorator has their own style.

Texas_Rose Posted 30 Jan 2010 , 8:18pm
post #24 of 33

What I meant about the moral question was not about copying the design. I guess I should have been more specific. This is what I meant:

Let's say that I am just starting out and am decorating from home. Down the street from me, there's a popular custom cake designer with a storefront bakery and a couple of employees. She has some lovely, distinctive cakes on her website. A friend of a friend comes to me with a picture she printed off the website. She says she's been to that bakery and they wanted $600 to make that cake for her in her colors. I look at the picture and it's easy to duplicate the cake, so because I am new and I want to get business I make the cake for the friend of a friend for $200. Then all of her friends see the cake at her event, and then next time 5 of them need a cake that looks like what the cake designer has on her website, they come to me and I make it for much less than the bakery....and so on....and the next thing you know, the cake designer has a lot less business.

That's what the moral issue would be for me. If I opened a bakery and had my own designs and flavors that set me apart from the bakery down the street, then people would either come to me or go to the bakery down the street, depending on whose style they wanted. That's the way that business works. But if I was copying someone's work for less than they could afford to sell it for because I didn't have the same expenses and they were losing customers to me, that would be dishonest on my part.

Loucinda Posted 30 Jan 2010 , 8:22pm
post #25 of 33

I would not be doing anything for less money. icon_wink.gif Even the playing field, by charging the same ( or more) and it removes that moral issue.

costumeczar Posted 30 Jan 2010 , 8:36pm
post #26 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas_Rose


Let's say that I am just starting out and am decorating from home. Down the street from me, there's a popular custom cake designer with a storefront bakery and a couple of employees. She has some lovely, distinctive cakes on her website. A friend of a friend comes to me with a picture she printed off the website. She says she's been to that bakery and they wanted $600 to make that cake for her in her colors. I look at the picture and it's easy to duplicate the cake, so because I am new and I want to get business I make the cake for the friend of a friend for $200. Then all of her friends see the cake at her event, and then next time 5 of them need a cake that looks like what the cake designer has on her website, they come to me and I make it for much less than the bakery....and so on....and the next thing you know, the cake designer has a lot less business.

That's what the moral issue would be for me. If I opened a bakery and had my own designs and flavors that set me apart from the bakery down the street, then people would either come to me or go to the bakery down the street, depending on whose style they wanted. That's the way that business works. But if I was copying someone's work for less than they could afford to sell it for because I didn't have the same expenses and they were losing customers to me, that would be dishonest on my part.




This exact thing happened to me, and I don't know if it's cost me business in the long run, but it sure irritates you when someone copies your designs and doesn't give credit. If it's someone local and you're competing in the same market, it can damage your business if someone is copying your designs.

cakedesire Posted 30 Jan 2010 , 8:37pm
post #27 of 33

Obviously we all have some pretty strong feelings about this; I think we should do what ever we feel is the right thing for us and our own personal situation thumbs_up.gif

kellertur Posted 30 Jan 2010 , 8:39pm
post #28 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakedesire

GeordieMum,
All I can say is how many "artists" learn by copying the likes of Van Gogh, and Picasso? Coping is how we learn, that is why we watch shows like and ace of cakes; not only are they intertaning to us but we learn so much from them! And I thought that was what cake central was about, SHARING all our wonderful ideas! I agree that you should give credit were credit is due, but bottom line I would be flattered if someone copied my work. Best of luck to you!





Not directed at OP ~ icon_smile.gif
Artist's who learned by imitating the "masters" sited thier source... atleast the honest one's did/do. There's a big difference between being "inspired" and being "derivitive"... many written works of fiction are derivitive of King's work (just formulated knock off's to make a quick profit). Other's are inspired by him, yet the author's do not hide where their ideas come from. icon_confused.gif You can't really do a rendition of a famous paiting without it being obvious... that's often an homage, like when a a filmaker tips their hat to another in a very obvious way, it goes without saying. If you try and pass the Mona Lisa off as your own, you end up looking like a jacka$$.

Cake and fine art may be very different, I'm still unsure where the lines grey... but I'm not comfortable using what I "believe" is an original idea without credit, and trying to duplicate it unless it's just practicing technique. This is just my opinion, not a judgement. icon_smile.gif

cakedesire Posted 30 Jan 2010 , 8:55pm
post #29 of 33

If you are going to quote me please keep in mind that I did say TO GIVE CREDIT WERE CREDIT IS DUE!

kellertur Posted 30 Jan 2010 , 9:00pm
post #30 of 33

I'm sorry, I wasn't trying to say YOU didn't give credit. That was NOT my intention. icon_redface.gif I did begin by writing it was NOT directed at you.

It was quite clear *in your quote* that you said to give credit "where credit is due". There was no harm meant, and it wasn't personal, ok? icon_smile.gif

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