Question About Liscenced Characters

Business By hilberry1 Updated 22 Apr 2010 , 7:56pm by PinkZiab

hilberry1 Posted 22 Apr 2010 , 10:15am
post #1 of 12

Having just recently gotten into the business, I'm a little confused about when I can and can't use specific characters on cakes. I know things like Disney are out. What about characters from books like Skippyjon Jones or Angelina Ballerina? What about sports... do I need permission to use the Philly Phanatic, for example? How do I go about getting permission?


11 replies
MissCakeCrazy Posted 22 Apr 2010 , 10:20am
post #2 of 12

I am confused too. Everyone says that using idney characters are illegal YET I see alot of pics of cakes on websites with a snowwhite picture for example on the cake. Everyones doing it.

pattycakesnj Posted 22 Apr 2010 , 10:35am
post #3 of 12

Doing it is not illegal, doing it and selling it for money is illegal. Contact the company or sports team and ask permission.

icingimages Posted 22 Apr 2010 , 10:56am
post #4 of 12

patty is correct, you cannot sell a licensed character. Now, when you purchase a preprinted one, you are paying for the rights to sell it. When you make one of those character pans, you are paying for the rights as well. When you pull something off the internet and then sell it, that is where it becomes illegal

MissCakeCrazy Posted 22 Apr 2010 , 11:10am
post #5 of 12

By pre-printed do you mean edible images?

costumeczar Posted 22 Apr 2010 , 11:16am
post #6 of 12

Specifically about the sports teams, I've written a bunch of them and they will usually give you permission to do a certain number a year without having to pay royalites. You can't use photos of the cakes in your advertising or on your website.

More specifically about the Phillies Phanatic, I had the worst time I've ever had getting permission from them. They DO NOT WANT people to use it without their express permission, and I had to drag it out of them. They wanted sketches of the cake, and they wanted to see the final product before they approved it. I explained why that wasn't going to happen, and I had to send them photos of previous cakes that I'd done to show them the quality of my work and the techniques I'd be using on the final cake. If you see photos of phanatic cakes that have been sold, they were done without permission, because you're not supposed to put them online as advertising or showing your work. Speakign from experience, I would NEVER do another Phanatic cake, it was too aggravating to work with "the team" that had to approve everything ten times.

brincess_b Posted 22 Apr 2010 , 11:46am
post #7 of 12

You can mot sell cakes made in a character pan either.

Yes, lots of people do it. Lots don't get caught, lots do - and those fines can be hefty!

Would I chance it? No.

hilberry1 Posted 22 Apr 2010 , 12:23pm
post #8 of 12

Thanks for all of the replies. I typically do not do character pans, and was wondering more about hand made fondant or gumpaste figures.

If you want to use a character from a book, do you need permission? If so, from whom?

(And thanks for the heads up about the Phillies. I made a Phanatic cake for a friend, and have multiple requests for similar cakes just from people seeing pictures of it on his Facebook page. It sounds like it may not be worth the hassle!)

brincess_b Posted 22 Apr 2010 , 12:58pm
post #9 of 12

Books are covered by copyright too, usually it is the author that has the rights.

I believe some copyrights expire, so u can do what you want. It would be worth reading through the old threads to find out more, it can get very complicated.

Rose_N_Crantz Posted 22 Apr 2010 , 1:13pm
post #10 of 12

Rule of thumb. If you didn't design it entirely, it's copyright infringement. I've saved a couple of cake photos here that I think explain this perfectly. Now, I don't know if either of these cakes were sold, but for sake of explanation, let's say they were. And no offense to either of the bakers of these cakes.
This cake is an example of copyright infringement. The superhero logos, which were not designed by the cake decorator were made by hand. If the cake was sold, copyright infringement. If it was just made for their own children, or given as a gift with no money exchanging hands, it's fine.
This cake is totally fine. Note that the actual cake is just a cityscape with some spiderwebs. The spiderman figure is actually a toy that was purchased and just placed on top of the cake. Can't tell about that little spiderman plaque off to the side, but let's say it's not there. When you purchase a decopac set or edible image (from decopac or some other decorating company), you buy the rights to use it. When you buy a toy, you can use that for what ever you want to use it for. I've made a tinkerbell cake using this method. I just decorated the cake kinda girly and we placed her tinkerbell doll on top.

Wilton also sells character themed cake decorations and character pans. I know the pans are for home use only, it says on the label, but I'm not sure about the cake decorations. If anything, you can always tell the customer to just go check it out themselves and they can buy what they want to put on the cake.

You might get people that say "Well, this baker told me they could make a character cake for me..." Just do what IndyDebi did/does: cross your arms and say "THEY might be willing to sacrifice their business and home for you, but I am not." The fines for infringement include and can be up to $10,000 and jail time. And yes, some companies do take it to that extent.

hilberry1 Posted 22 Apr 2010 , 4:32pm
post #11 of 12

Thank you for the clarification Rose_N_Crantz! That helps a lot.

PinkZiab Posted 22 Apr 2010 , 7:56pm
post #12 of 12
Originally Posted by icingimages

When you make one of those character pans, you are paying for the rights as well.

This is wrong. Character pans are sold for private use only and purchase of them does NOT include license to sell products made from such. Selling cakes made from character pans is 100% ILLEGAL.

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