I have been doing cakes on the side for a few years now, but last year I took a 3 hour business course because I do eventually want to make my living doing cakes. My instructor informed us that you cannot sell the character cakes or if someone asked for a "Cinderella cake" you couldn't just simply free-hand Cinderella because Disney doesn't make any money off of it. She did say that if you purchased a Disney item to place on the cake that it was okay because then they make money from it. Is this correct? I made a Cinderella doll cake, which is in my photos, for my daughter this year, and I bought a Cinderella doll instead of using the ones like you would buy from Wilton. Would I legally be able to sell a cake by using toys as decorations?
You are not legally allowed to reproduce any licensed characters to sell without permission. You are not allowed to use wilton character pans/accessories for cakes to sell either (they say on them something about home use only). You can use the cake kits like the bakeries use. If you want to have toys on the cake, I believe you need to have the customer purchase them and also put them on themselves.
With all that being said, I find it amazing how many people advertise these kind of things and think nothing of it. That is why people expect you can do it.
What you can do is decorate the cake in the colours and themes of the character, but like your instructor and hvanaalst said, the customer can buy the toy and place it on the cake. That way the corporations are getting their money from the purchased toy.
Welcome to CC by the way!! You'll find there's lots of topics (like this one, I have to say) that are discussed multiple times. The search tool is a great way of finding lots of answers with tons of replies already. Have fun on the site though, you'll soon be addicted!
Your instructor is correct.
if you do a search for threads about copywrited characters you will find a lot of information.
Thanks everyone for your comments, but does it matter if I purchase the toy or the customer? I don't make any profit from the toy. If it's a $50 cake and the toy is $10, I just add ten dollars to cover the cost of the toy. Because I wouldn't be able to sell that Cinderella doll cake or any others like it if I had to make it and say " Well, here you go. Just stick that doll right in the middle when you get home!" I just know it's a touchy subject, and I'm a big fan of following the rules.
I have the customer purchase the toy and bring it to me to put on the cake.
Okay that would work fine. Thanks, guys