Changing Name For Copyright Reasons?

Business By tootie0809 Updated 10 Mar 2011 , 5:55pm by jason_kraft

tootie0809 Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 12:54am
post #1 of 49

I have a client wanting a cake with Christian Louboutin gum paste pump on top of the Louboutin shoebox cake. I mentioned to the client I cannot put the name or branding of the company on the cake for copyright infringement since it is a cake that is being sold for profit. My hubby, however, thinks the best way aroudn this is to change one of the letters in the Louboutin...say spellin Luoboutin or Luobouten, but write it in the same lettering design so it looks like the brand name, just that slight variation of spelling. I told him I think that's walking a very gray line, but he insists it would get around the copyright infringement. What do you all think? (Help me settle this debate with him....if I'm wrong, I'm wrong and will admit it...) icon_smile.gif

48 replies
Karen421 Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 1:17am
post #2 of 49

There have been many discussions on this, and I think the verdict was no, you can't, because it will still look like the original. You might want to search for copyright threads. icon_smile.gif

motherofgrace Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 1:32am
post #3 of 49

what id you wrote HER name instead of the brand? Or just left it off?

weirkd Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 1:34am
post #4 of 49

Karen is right. If you read some of the copyright laws it says any likeness,copy and distribution without legal consent is strickly prohibited by law.

WykdGud Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 1:35am
post #5 of 49

I have to be honest - I would just do the cake and spell the name correctly. They make apparel, not cakes - so you using their name is promoting their brand and not costing them money.

Why not just email the company and ask permission to use the name on cakes?

cabecakes Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 1:45am
post #6 of 49

I would not use any likeness of the design if you don't have written consent to use it. Even if you change one letter, if the likeness of the design leads one to interpret the same brand, it would be considered copyright infringement. I would suggest simply emailing the company for permission to reproduce their logo on a cake, if they refuse your request, no logo on cake.

tootie0809 Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 2:52am
post #7 of 49

I emailed the company earlier today asking for permission. I have no idea if they'll even answer me. I was telling DH about it, and that's when he came up with his "brilliant" idea to just change one letter. I did tell the client unless we get permission that no branding could be used, and I suggested using her name or leaving it blank. I now get to go tell DH that I was, in fact, correct about the copyright stuff. (He hates when I'm right.....because I am so often icon_wink.gif )

Karen421 Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 2:54am
post #8 of 49

Well of course you are!!! LOL thumbs_up.gif

silverdragon997 Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 3:59am
post #9 of 49

On movies and television, set decorating departments often do what they call "greeking", which refers to the process of changing or hiding corporate trademarks that have not been "cleared" legally for use in the production (thanks, wikipedia). The way I've seen it done is just with a permanent marker, coloring out parts of letters or designs in a logo so it doesn't look exactly like the logo anymore. Not sure if it would work with cake decorating though...

indydebi Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 5:07am
post #10 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by WykdGud

I have to be honest - I would just do the cake and spell the name correctly. They make apparel, not cakes - so you using ......their name is promoting their brand and not costing them money.


this is so wrong in many ways. It is not "promoting" the brand, it is a copyright infringement. Costing them money has nothing to do with it. Under copyright law, if a company does not pursue ALL copyright infringements, then they lose the right to pursue ANY copyright infringements. "Losting Money" is the LEAST of the concerns in a copyright violation situation and those who think "its the money" just don't get it.

To the OP, tell your husband is he just wrong. I've shared this story many times. My neighbor works for Jim Davis, creator of Garfield. She shared the story about a guy who created a blue Garfield, thinking if he altered "just one thing" so it didnt' look EXACTLY like Garfield, then he'd be ok. Mr. Davis is very generous with allowing the use of his creations but he's also very protective. He took this guy to court for copyright infringement and the judge showed the blue garfield guy the error of his thinking!

If you make a coach person, and use 'e' instead of 'c' all over it, yet people look at it and say "Oh look! A coach purse cake!" then its a violation.

WykdGud Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 6:02am
post #11 of 49

Wrong or not, I'd still do it. I'd try to email the company first, but even if they said "no", it wouldn't stop me. The evidence is going to be eaten anyway and I doubt my customer is going to tattle on me for fulfilling their request.

I also drive over the speed limit and jaywalk. And I've taken the tags off my mattresses. Heh.

I used to take the cake/copyright thing a bit more seriously, but as the years go by, I have stopped caring and am willing to take the risk.

scp1127 Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 8:17am
post #12 of 49

I think it is very unfair when a member comes to the BUSINESS FORUM and is given advice to break the law. Save it for a pm, but don't call it advice on a public forum. NO you cannot make it even similar.

One of these days an attorney is going to make a business of tracking down copyright abusers. All the attorney would have to do is google the image and all of these illegal uses will pop up with the link straight back to the abuser. The internet is too easy to trace. This will happen. Even a few years from now, your pictures and advertising will still be there.

My daughter used a paid site to download music a few years ago. A few months later we got four individual letters from four different artists' legal departments stating that the site was not an approved site and if we did not cease using this site immediately, we would be prosecuted. The artists were top billboard artists and obviously, they knew how to protect their property.

taniabanana Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 8:31am
post #13 of 49

We actually made cookies in the shapes of their shoes for this company to give to clients for Christmas. They were very picky about how they were done. I'd be very surprised if they give you permission.

jason_kraft Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 9:02am
post #14 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

One of these days an attorney is going to make a business of tracking down copyright abusers. All the attorney would have to do is google the image and all of these illegal uses will pop up with the link straight back to the abuser. The internet is too easy to trace. This will happen.



Protecting intellectual property by searching for infringing images online is already a lucrative market due to widespread infringement in emerging markets. Finding infringing images on cakes is already pretty easy with Google image search (for example: http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=Christian Louboutin cake), but there are other resources out there that can track down similar images even if they are not identified with the name of the brand being infringed.

scp1127 Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 9:15am
post #15 of 49

Jason, have you had that baby yet?

indydebi Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 10:21am
post #16 of 49

icon_redface.gif I just want to correct some typos and the edit key has disappeared on me!

Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

"Losting Money"


should be "losing money"

Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

If you make a coach person,


should be "coach purse" (geesh, how in the world do ya make a coach person! icon_redface.gif )

jason_kraft Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 10:39am
post #17 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

Jason, have you had that baby yet?



Yep, we had a baby girl on Saturday (after 45 hours of labor), mom and baby are both doing fine. And we're both very glad we put the business on hold for a while.

scp1127 Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 10:44am
post #18 of 49

Congratulations! When I saw the time that you were online I thought you may be up with your new baby. Kids change your life and make it so much better!

indydebi Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 4:45pm
post #19 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

Jason, have you had that baby yet?


Yep, we had a baby girl on Saturday (after 45 hours of labor), mom and baby are both doing fine. And we're both very glad we put the business on hold for a while.


congratulations! There is nothing more special in this world than Daddy's and Daughter's!!!!!

weirkd Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 6:29pm
post #20 of 49

Congratulations Daddy!! I agree with Debbie and Jason. Look at Martha Stewart. How many times have we heard of people who were well off breaking the law on things like stock tips. They made sure that they made Martha an example of how their not going to put up with it. And unless your filthy rich, do you really want to take that chance of being the example??

WykdGud Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 8:28pm
post #21 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

I think it is very unfair when a member comes to the BUSINESS FORUM and is given advice to break the law. Save it for a pm, but don't call it advice on a public forum. NO you cannot make it even similar.




I don't recall giving anyone advice that they should break the law. In fact, I suggested she email the company and ask for permission.

What I DID say, however, is that *I* (that would be "me") would just do it. We all break the laws in varying ways every day (if you deny that you do, I refuse to believe you). There are varying degrees of each infraction of the law. Exceeding the speed limit by only one mile per hour is technically a violation of the law, but not one you will likely get ticketed for. Likewise, making a cake that looks like Mickey Mouse may technically be infringement, but I would be shocked if the copyright police showed up at my door.

Selling knock-offs of designer bags hurts the company by potentially decreasing their sales. Selling a cake that looks like a Coach purse doesn't harm their business in any way. And sure they must actively protect their copyright, but that doesn't mean they have to prosecute every instance of infringement - that would become too expensive and would burden the court system. Could you imagine if everyone who created a cake of a licensed character was sued? Not gonna happen.

So yes, I ENCOURAGE anyone to operate within the law, but I PERSONALLY am willing to take the risk that I won't be sued. And if I am, well, I'll be happy to come back here and let everyone gloat. thumbs_up.gif

jason_kraft Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 10:50pm
post #22 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by WykdGud

Selling knock-offs of designer bags hurts the company by potentially decreasing their sales. Selling a cake that looks like a Coach purse doesn't harm their business in any way.



I'm not so sure. By creating a product that bears someone else's brand, you implicitly represent that brand with your product. If the owner of the brand consents to your use because your product/company meets their standards that's fine, but if you don't get permission and your representation of their branded product is subpar (or there is a liability issue with the cake itself) the brand can lose value.

For something Peanuts that's probably not as big an issue, but a company like Coach lives and dies based on the cachet of its brand. Other companies (like Disney) are very serious about carefully controlling where and how their licensed characters appear.

WykdGud Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 11:00pm
post #23 of 49

I would have to argue that the chance of someone actually assuming that the cake served to them at a party was made by the design house is too small to even consider here. I understand your point, but I really don't think there would be that kind of confusion regarding the production of a cake.

But congrats on the new baby! Babies are fun! I have a 9 month old myself... boy do they grow quick!

scp1127 Posted 10 Mar 2011 , 12:32am
post #24 of 49

As Jason showed, I think the copyright police will be showing up a infringers' doors... sooner than later.

WykdGud Posted 10 Mar 2011 , 3:55am
post #25 of 49

Does anyone here seriously think that a designer is more interested in suing a cake decorator who may likely only ever make a single cake with their logo, or would they spend their time/effort/money pursuing someone who was knocking off their product and affecting their bottom line?

I could see a company like Disney pursuing this - they also sell toys that are meant to be put on cakes (DecoPac stuff) - but a company that makes purses? I doubt it.

Kitagrl Posted 10 Mar 2011 , 4:05am
post #26 of 49

All I can say is, if in doubt, don't.

Because if you get on here and ask, they're all gonna tell you no. If you plan to do the cake no matter what, then don't get on here and ask. haha. What people don't know, they can't yell at you for....and its your own business. But whatever you bring to the attention of this forum, becomes everybody's business and then you gotta deal with it.

Just sayin'.

thumbs_up.gif

icon_biggrin.gif

EpicureanMaiden Posted 10 Mar 2011 , 4:14am
post #27 of 49

I have a friend that works in Collegiate Licensing, and she warned me to be sure to show that my Characters etc. were not made for profit. She works in a legal department that does pursue it!
I was going to take my pictures down, but I decided not to because every one was done for a family member or friend, and I not only didn't profit, but I lost money! lol Also they were probably my best cakes!
I'm starting a business and I'm afraid to take that chance!
WykdGud, I agree with you on so many points...I just have bad luck, I'd probably be that one example! lol
Some of the local top bakeries in my area, all have licensed copywritten characters, purses, mascots, etc. on their web sites. I was really suprised by that!

EpicureanMaiden Posted 10 Mar 2011 , 4:16am
post #28 of 49

I wonder if anyone has had success in getting permission to use likeness in cakes?

stsapph Posted 10 Mar 2011 , 4:29am
post #29 of 49

When my husband and I got married, he wanted a copy righted image for his grooms cake. Our baker insisted that we were responsible for getting permission, in writing, to use the image, and if we didn't we would have to get a different design. Luckily, we were able to attain it easily. She she told us most people don't have issues getting permission, but it must be done to protect all parties.

jason_kraft Posted 10 Mar 2011 , 4:45am
post #30 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by WykdGud

Does anyone here seriously think that a designer is more interested in suing a cake decorator who may likely only ever make a single cake with their logo, or would they spend their time/effort/money pursuing someone who was knocking off their product and affecting their bottom line?



The owners of a trademark or copyrighted character/logo usually don't try to find infringement on their own, this task is typically outsourced to a law firm or a company that specializes in protecting brands and intellectual property. It is in the vendor's best interest to prove their worth to the hiring company, and that means uncovering infringement.

If I were running an IP protection firm, I would definitely pick off the low-hanging fruit (infringement found via image searches, even one-off infringement) to justify why my services were so important. It's not an either/or question either, the image search investigation could be done by an intern, while regular staff could focus on rooting out more damaging infringement.

Think about it from the copyright owner's point of view. If you spend time, money, and energy creating something unique and going through the hassle of having it trademarked so you can get a return on your investment, how would you feel about someone else making money off your unique creation by copying it and putting it on their product? Or a poorly-drawn representation of your unique creation ending up on cakewrecks? Or your unique creation being used in propaganda for a political issue you personally disagree with? The copyright owner has earned the right to approve or deny the use of their creation as they see fit.

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