Copyright Issue?

Business By joyfullysweet Updated 8 Nov 2010 , 4:35pm by Dayti

joyfullysweet Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 5:43pm
post #1 of 26

Hello there! I am working on opening a home bakery business. I've been posting pictures of cakes I made on a website I'm working on, and a Facebook page. I do have some cakes that I did for my kids that I know I couldn't legally sell because of copyright issues, but I was wondering about these:

http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=gallery&file=displayimage&pid=1796280

http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=gallery&file=displayimage&pid=1677186

http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=gallery&file=displayimage&pid=1548596

Copyright infringement?

25 replies
jason_kraft Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 5:52pm
post #2 of 26

All three of those cakes would be infringing if you did not get permission from the copyright holders. You might be able to get the Phillies to allow the use of their logo, but I doubt Disney would consent to the other two.

costumeczar Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 6:42pm
post #3 of 26

I can tell you that I have received permission from a bunch of major league sports teams to do cakes using their logos, but they don't like you to use the images in any advertising or on your websites even if they give you permission to make the cake.

The Phillies was the MOST difficult to deal with of ANY team I worked with. They gave me such a runaround, said that they wanted to approve the cake before it was delivered icon_confused.gif The guy I dealt with was a major jerk. I did the Phanatic cake then vowed to never deal with them again. It also seems that football teams and colleges are much more accomodating and friendly when it comes to this, but baseball teams stink. Maybe the steroids make them cranky icon_lol.gif

joyfullysweet Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 7:10pm
post #4 of 26

Haha...thanks! I won't post those on my website or FB page. About the doll cakes, is in copyright infringement because the doll is purchased?

jason_kraft Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 7:20pm
post #5 of 26

It's copyright infringement because you would be profiting from a representation of someone else's work (i.e. Snow White) without obtaining permission from the owner of said work. Purchasing a doll (or cake pan, or picture) does not give you license to use it in a commercial product unless that permission is expressly given on the product packaging.

flamingobaker Posted 5 Nov 2010 , 9:30pm
post #6 of 26

I think that using the doll is just like using any other character topper.

Narie Posted 5 Nov 2010 , 10:14pm
post #7 of 26

Snow White and Tinkerbell do not belong to Disney. The names of the 7 dwarfs do belong to Disney. But Snow White is a Grimm brothers character. They never gave the dwarves names and Disney did. So Sleepy etc. belongs to Disney. Tinkerbell is licensed to some American company by the London Childrens hospital to which James M. Barrie willed the rights to his Peter Pan characters. Actually Disney is being suited over their infringment of the Tinkerbell character. You might get sued by somebody but it wouldn't be Disney.

Navyempress Posted 5 Nov 2010 , 10:33pm
post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Narie

Snow White and Tinkerbell do not belong to Disney. The names of the 7 dwarfs do belong to Disney. But Snow White is a Grimm brothers character. They never gave the dwarves names and Disney did. So Sleepy etc. belongs to Disney. Tinkerbell is licensed to some American company by the London Childrens hospital to which James M. Barrie willed the rights to his Peter Pan characters. Actually Disney is being suited over their infringment of the Tinkerbell character. You might get sued by somebody but it wouldn't be Disney.




Wow! I did not know that! You learn something every day.. I would treat the doll the same way I would any other copyrighted topper--the client purchases it from a licensed retailer and gives it to me to use in the cake. I wouldn't be afraid to post it online, just as long as it clearly states that any copyrighted characters used in edible creations are customer purchased and provided. Or something to the liking..

jillmakescakes Posted 5 Nov 2010 , 10:40pm
post #9 of 26

While the actual characters of Tinkerbell and Snow White may not belong to Disney, the IMAGES that we typically associate with these characters do belong to Disney as it was their artists who created those images.

Therefore, a fair skinned, dark haired maiden is OK. A fairy, OK, but one made to look like the doll that Disney is selling, not so much.

Narie Posted 5 Nov 2010 , 11:04pm
post #10 of 26

Selling Tinkerbell characters i.e. toys is exactly what Disney is getting sued about. Frankly, the whole issue of copyright infringement is a very sticky legal situation. I would a avoid any mention of those characters at a web site. Orange or purple fairies no problem; same with Fairy Tale princess cakes. Change the hair colors etc. - offer to make the fairy tale princess match the little girl it is being made for.

Chef_Stef Posted 6 Nov 2010 , 10:53pm
post #11 of 26

*sigh*

I'm so sick of the copyright thing. Really. I'm about ready to post a big banner across my website that says

'IF YOU'RE THROWING A SPONGEBOB/MINNIE MOUSE/ALICE IN WONDERLAND/THOMAS THE TRAIN BIRTHDAY AND WANT A SCULPED CAKE TO MAKE THE DAY PERFECT, I CAN'T HELP YOU. Yes, I know Duff does it, but I can't. Thank you".

I *get* the idea of copyright and profit from sales, etc. I just think it's a teeny weeny bit much to sue a cake decorator for a spot-on likeness of a Coach purse or a mouseketeer cap.

Sorry, I'm just extra cranky today. (not meant as a slam one way or the other on the OP or others, just had to comment) icon_twisted.gif

Carry on

steffiessweet_sin_sations Posted 6 Nov 2010 , 11:22pm
post #12 of 26

cant you just call it something else? i mean disney doesnt own all the mouse ears in the world, i can make a cake that has mouse ears on it, but i just cant call it mickey mouse. i see cakes all the time that have that, and i dont think all their shops got specific permission from disney, otherwise the disney execs would be doing only that all day long! i make princess decorations all the time for my cupcakes, i just dont name them anything except princess. if we want to do a yellow sponge cake cant we just call it that?

indydebi Posted 7 Nov 2010 , 12:56am
post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by steffiessweet_sin_sations

cant you just call it something else? i mean disney doesnt own all the mouse ears in the world, i can make a cake that has mouse ears on it, but i just cant call it mickey mouse. i see cakes all the time that have that, and i dont think all their shops got specific permission from disney, otherwise the disney execs would be doing only that all day long! i make princess decorations all the time for my cupcakes, i just dont name them anything except princess. if we want to do a yellow sponge cake cant we just call it that?



If someone looks at your train cake and thinks "Thomas the Train", then it's close enough to be a copyright violation.

A story I've shared frequently: Neighbors works for Jim Davis, creator of Garfield. Some guy thought if he made garfield in blue, then that would be "different enough" that it wouldnt' be "gardfield". A court judge showed him how he was wrong.

Rose_N_Crantz Posted 8 Nov 2010 , 1:09am
post #14 of 26

I think the Tinkerbell cake is fine actually. You said in the description that the doll was a full sized purchased doll stuck into the cake. You just decorated a green dress around her. That is totally fine. The Snow White one looked sculpted to me and yes, that would be infringement.

I would advertise that you can make "background" cakes. Meaning the client supplies the Tinkerbell/SpongeBob/Elmo/etc doll. A purchased doll. Then you use that as inspiration to decorate a cake that will be able to have that doll as a topper.

BETHC22 Posted 8 Nov 2010 , 1:11am
post #15 of 26

I was asked to make a john deere cake, and wondered if I could put a green tractor on the top without writing JOHN DEERE on it? Would that still be illegal? I was also asked to make a Twilight cake, it does not look like a Twilight cake, it will just have a gray wolf on the top. Is that illegal? Thank You!

jason_kraft Posted 8 Nov 2010 , 4:19am
post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rose_N_Crantz

I think the Tinkerbell cake is fine actually. You said in the description that the doll was a full sized purchased doll stuck into the cake. You just decorated a green dress around her. That is totally fine.



I'm not so sure about that...unless specifically authorized, you cannot use the likeness of someone else's copyrighted work in one of your commercial products. This is true even if you buy a likeness of the work (such as a doll or a cake topper), the likeness itself is completely separate from a license to use said likeness in a commercial product.

Quote:
Quote:

I would advertise that you can make "background" cakes. Meaning the client supplies the Tinkerbell/SpongeBob/Elmo/etc doll. A purchased doll. Then you use that as inspiration to decorate a cake that will be able to have that doll as a topper.



This is acceptable because the commercial product does not include any copyrighted likenesses, they are added by the consumer after purchase.

jason_kraft Posted 8 Nov 2010 , 4:23am
post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by BETHC22

I was asked to make a john deere cake, and wondered if I could put a green tractor on the top without writing JOHN DEERE on it? Would that still be illegal?



If you made a generic green tractor, that would be OK, but if you traced a picture of a John Deere tractor that would be infringement if you did not obtain authorization from JD, even if you did not include the logo. Of course, the risk of doing this is pretty low, as I doubt JD is all that worried about tractor pictures on cakes.

Quote:
Quote:

I was also asked to make a Twilight cake, it does not look like a Twilight cake, it will just have a gray wolf on the top. Is that illegal? Thank You!



A generic gray wolf is not copyrightable and would be OK. Just make sure not to use the Twilight logo.

BETHC22 Posted 8 Nov 2010 , 12:42pm
post #18 of 26

Thank you VERY much!!!

BETHC22 Posted 8 Nov 2010 , 1:07pm
post #19 of 26

I have another question..... icon_surprised.gif) I did a Veggie Tales cake and wondered about that being copyrightable? I molded Bob and Larry, but didn't put a logo on it.

auntmamie Posted 8 Nov 2010 , 1:49pm
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by steffiessweet_sin_sations

cant you just call it something else? i mean disney doesnt own all the mouse ears in the world, i can make a cake that has mouse ears on it, but i just cant call it mickey mouse. i see cakes all the time that have that, and i dont think all their shops got specific permission from disney, otherwise the disney execs would be doing only that all day long! i make princess decorations all the time for my cupcakes, i just dont name them anything except princess. if we want to do a yellow sponge cake cant we just call it that?




Sorry, but think again. I used to work with Disney corporate, and they do have a legal department dedicated to copyright allowance and copyright infringement. And they really take their characters seriously. A few years ago, there was a story on here about a daycare in Orlando that got sued because of a mural on their wall, that they didn't have permission for. Not painted for profit, but because they were a business, they were sued.

leily Posted 8 Nov 2010 , 2:04pm
post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by BETHC22

I was asked to make a john deere cake, and wondered if I could put a green tractor on the top without writing JOHN DEERE on it? Would that still be illegal?


If you made a generic green tractor, that would be OK, but if you traced a picture of a John Deere tractor that would be infringement if you did not obtain authorization from JD, even if you did not include the logo. Of course, the risk of doing this is pretty low, as I doubt JD is all that worried about tractor pictures on cakes.




Actually John Deere does care. I live about 1/2 an hour from their corporate head quarters and they DO look for their logo being used w/o permission. And the green/yellow color combination being used to represent them. They do have people dedicated to this area just as Disney does.

mayo2222 Posted 8 Nov 2010 , 2:27pm
post #22 of 26

Technically you can not trademark color alone. There are only so many colors and nobody actually created color (well maybe the man upstairs). But once certain colors are associated with a certain product the matter because trickier. Kodak with its black and gold/yellow, Owens Corning with its pink insulations, T Mobie with its magenta http://www.engadget.com/2008/03/31/deutsche-telekom-t-mobile-demands-engadget-mobile-discontinue/

So Leily is correct, people associate green/yellow tractors with John Deere so JD would have a very good case against someone selling green/yellow tractor products. So companies can't sorta trademark a color within a particular product category but its a somewhat grey area of the law. Good litmus test is if you associate it the colors with a certain product, so would a judge.

BETHC22 Posted 8 Nov 2010 , 2:36pm
post #23 of 26

Thank you all! I sent a letter to JD asking permission. We'll see if they contact me and allow me permission.

indydebi Posted 8 Nov 2010 , 2:39pm
post #24 of 26

FYI: My neighbor who works for Jim Davis (Garfield creator) told me Mr. Davis gives permission all the time .... he doesn't like people using his creation just anytime, but he's very generous with permission. So there's one you can file away for "potential easy access"!

jason_kraft Posted 8 Nov 2010 , 4:19pm
post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by BETHC22

I have another question..... icon_surprised.gif) I did a Veggie Tales cake and wondered about that being copyrightable? I molded Bob and Larry, but didn't put a logo on it.



It is safe to assume that any cartoon character is copyrighted, so selling a cake with the Veggie Tales characters without authorization would be infringing, even if you didn't include the logo.

Dayti Posted 8 Nov 2010 , 4:35pm
post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mayo2222

Technically you can not trademark color alone. There are only so many colors and nobody actually created color (well maybe the man upstairs). But once certain colors are associated with a certain product the matter because trickier. Kodak with its black and gold/yellow, Owens Corning with its pink insulations, T Mobie with its magenta




Not forgetting Tiffany (jewellers) blue, I think you can get into trouble using that colour, especially on a gift box style cake. Someone correct me if I'm wrong...

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%