Panel7124 Posted 29 Mar 2012 , 7:39pm
post #1 of

Got probably the 348th icon_rolleyes.gif request for Winnie the Pooh (and Mickey, Minnie Mouse, Thomas the Train, Hello Kitty.......) cake. The lady who called is the event coordinator and it's for her son's first birthday. I told her ok if you buy licensed toys, I'll just make generic cake with flowers, insects etc. and you can add your figures at home. It was quite a good order for such a simple cake, around $500. I explained the situation to her, what can be done and what not. OK, she agreed, no problems. She wanted some photos to get an idea what can be done, so I sent her some.

Today she calls saying she didn't receive any e-mail. I re-sent it and she called again to discuss the details. Asked her if she has already bought the toys to know their dimensions and she asks: 'What toys?' So again to explain her: 'copyrighted/trademarked character cakes are illegal if the characters are reproduced in fondant, gumpaste etc. You can't even make LV bag cake copying the actual bag' - just to give her an idea how it works.

She starts saying: 'I'm an event coordinator and I see those cakes everyday. It must be some Swiss law, we don't have anything like that in Italy and we can make any cakes we want!' (I'm just 5 km from the border, so I sometimes cater to Italian clients too). And continues: 'I'm also a lawyer' (which I highly doubt) 'and I've never heard of such laws! It surely has nothing to do with cakes!'

I'm really tired of this story. All bakeries mass stamp and reproduce any characters clients ask for and I believe they really don't know anything about copyright/trademark laws. There is no control, no limits, no fines. All photos are on-line. Nobody is punished. It's also difficult to find on-line anything quite clear regarding copyrigh/trademark laws regarding specifically cakes - to let them read it.

I'm probably not going to do any children's cakes anymore as EVERYBODY asks exactly for this stuff. Some clients are reasonable and buy the figures but it's a minority. Anyway, I can't imagine how anybody could do 20 fondant Winnie the Poohs and 30 fondant Mickey Mouse figures a month and not be bored, tired and angry icon_lol.gif There is no creativity, no fantasy, no joy. How do you explain the situation to those ignorant people? I was really tired after talking to her on the phone. Just a vent, I think many people understand.

20 replies
KalisCakes Posted 29 Mar 2012 , 8:10pm
post #2 of

I hear ya! What I've resorted to doing is, rather than having them purchase the toys, I include the price of the toys in the cake and purchase them myself, and while going through the consult simply explain to them that I cannot make edible reproductions of the character, but I do have figurines to use. So far, it's worked. icon_smile.gif

jason_kraft Posted 29 Mar 2012 , 8:15pm
post #3 of

When we get requests like this we have the customer contact the copyright owner to ask for written permission to use copies of the characters in the design, this puts the onus on the customer to get permission. When they inevitably fail we have a non-infringing fallback design ready to go...plus the customer gets mad at the copyright owner instead of us.

It is definitely frustrating when you see so many other businesses ignoring copyright law, it's not something many people even think about until someone brings it up to them.

FYI, you can buy licensed figurines and decopacs yourself, you don't need to have the customer buy them.

KalisCakes Posted 29 Mar 2012 , 8:21pm
post #4 of

Also, you'd be surprised that sometimes the companies actually will give you permission.... if you just ask nicely

Panel7124 Posted 29 Mar 2012 , 8:28pm
post #5 of

Thanks for your replies!

I have already written an essay icon_smile.gif on my website for clients about it. Explaining all the possibilities (licensed figures, contacting copyright owners, making the cakes themselves at home with character pans, using Decopacs etc.). I even have the most requested licensed figures and offer to clients to supply them. So I did in this case but she wanted to choose them herself. That's why I was surprised when she suddenly didn't remember what we had talked about on the phone the first time.

KalisCakes - do you have a positive experience with any company in particular? I'd be interested to know. Disney is surely a lost battle... no hopes.

KalisCakes Posted 29 Mar 2012 , 8:39pm
post #6 of

warner bros and dc comics are about a 50/50; lucas films I've had some success with as well when I show them the quality of my work and explain what it is I'm wanting to do. They're pretty picky about making sure whatever they're agreeing to is gonna look good. I think too, it really depends on the luck of the day and who you talk to, and what kind of day they're having lol.

Panel7124 Posted 29 Mar 2012 , 8:52pm
post #7 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by KalisCakes

warner bros and dc comics are about a 50/50; lucas films I've had some success with as well when I show them the quality of my work and explain what it is I'm wanting to do. They're pretty picky about making sure whatever they're agreeing to is gonna look good. I think too, it really depends on the luck of the day and who you talk to, and what kind of day they're having lol.




That's quite encouraging. Thanks!

(Hope they'll have a blessed day if I'm eventually going to contact them in the future icon_smile.gif ).

FromScratchSF Posted 29 Mar 2012 , 9:24pm
post #8 of

Yes, people are ignorant.

There is a "bakery" here in SF that makes kids sheet cakes and does all sorts of copyright characters on them (FBCs). I'm fairly positive they bake them out of their house (which is illegal here). I can't prove it but they sell their cakes so cheep for this area that I can't imagine how else they could be doing them. They dominate the market. Dominate. They are recommended daily thru my mom's club as the best place to get a cheep cake with Thomas or Elmo or Star Wars or My Little Pony on them. I so badly want to turn them in for both copyright and for illegally baking at home but I'm too chicken and don't want the bad mojo. But it also makes me look like a turd when those moms want to give me their order but I won't do a cake like that AND want to charge 5x the price.

Needless to say, I get no business from my mom's club.

jgifford Posted 29 Mar 2012 , 9:30pm
post #9 of

Maybe if these moms understood that the fines would apply to them as well, they might not be so quick to order a copyrighted character.

MarianInFL Posted 29 Mar 2012 , 9:50pm

This is so interesting. I never knew you couldn't do a figure cake without permission. I'm not a professional, so this never even occurred to me. What about those Wilton character pans. If they are used, did Wilton already get the ok? Is it just for if you sell a cake?

FromScratchSF Posted 29 Mar 2012 , 10:14pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarianInFL

This is so interesting. I never knew you couldn't do a figure cake without permission. I'm not a professional, so this never even occurred to me. What about those Wilton character pans. If they are used, did Wilton already get the ok? Is it just for if you sell a cake?




Character pans are not for commercial use. You can make them for your kid, but I cannot sell you a cake made in that pan.

brenda549 Posted 30 Mar 2012 , 12:24pm

Yep, I had a mom want to argue with me on the phone the other day about a Phineas and Ferb cake. I explained to her she would have to get reproduction permission from Disney Channel. She went on and on about character cakes all over the internet, bakeries having them, shaped cake pans, etc. I kept repeating myself about needing written permission from the copyright/trademark holder. I kept it professional, but boy was I irritated having to defend my legal business practices to someone that did not care. Ugh!

gatorcake Posted 30 Mar 2012 , 12:57pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Panel7124



I'm really tired of this story. All bakeries mass stamp and reproduce any characters clients ask for and I believe they really don't know anything about copyright/trademark laws. There is no control, no limits, no fines. All photos are on-line. Nobody is punished. It's also difficult to find on-line anything quite clear regarding copyrigh/trademark laws regarding specifically cakes - to let them read it.




That's because there is nothing unique to cake as a medium. Simply send them to explanations of copyright infringement--it does not matter whether you draw it, generate a computer image, paint it or decorate it on a cake.

And not really surprised by the reaction of most people. Probably most are oblivious to copyright law, they see these things everywhere, and some just don't care. Nothing unique to the caking world, just remember how many people were engaged in and are still in engaged in file sharing.

Panel7124 Posted 30 Mar 2012 , 1:14pm

So: I thought I had explained everything quite well to the lady yesterday - in the e-mail, on the phone and inviting her to have a look on the website. In the end of our phone conversation she sounded irritated and said just 'Well, I'm really sorry as I wanted to give you this order and I still don't see any problem... bye then'. I actually felt relieved icon_wink.gif, chapter closed, let's move on. Couple of hours later I got another short e-mail from her: 'I fell in love with this one, it's the cake I WANT:

http://cakecentral.com/gallery/1519060/first-birthday

Regarding copyrigh/trademark issue - it means if we use napkins, cups and tablecloths with Winnie the Pooh, we are breaking laws? No!, we can do what we want, even the cake with Winnie in fondant.'

icon_confused.gif did she want me to recreate also napkins, cups and tablecloth with Winnie in fondant, so they can eat them??

Just kidding... it's like talking to a deaf. I bet she will call again, seems quite determined. icon_smile.gif

gatorcake: Thanks, yeah, I did some research, it's very clear. People just don't believe it applies to something like cake (which will be eaten and that's it). It's surprising when somebody actually thanks to let them know (such people exist!) - they usually say they didn't have any idea copyright/trademark laws apply also to the cakes. (And the next question is: 'How comes all bakeries sell them though?') LOL

LittleLadyBabyCakes Posted 29 Apr 2012 , 8:01pm

While in college I had a friend who worked at a Promotions company...

The rule of thumb to not be an infringement on a copyright was to change 3 things. Font style or size. Head/ear size... color. etc.

We had tons of promotional products that *almost* looked like a copyrighted product. The same applies for the "black market" Mickey's--they look just a little off! LOL

costumeczar Posted 29 Apr 2012 , 8:33pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleLadyBabyCakes

While in college I had a friend who worked at a Promotions company...

The rule of thumb to not be an infringement on a copyright was to change 3 things. Font style or size. Head/ear size... color. etc.

We had tons of promotional products that *almost* looked like a copyrighted product. The same applies for the "black market" Mickey's--they look just a little off! LOL




That's not true...If it's recognizable as that character you can still be sued if the copyright holder wants to take you to court. Changing something a little isn't good enough. Paying for the license or getting premission to use it is. I've heard the idea of changing it just a little before but that won't fly in court.

LittleLadyBabyCakes Posted 3 May 2012 , 2:37am
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleLadyBabyCakes

While in college I had a friend who worked at a Promotions company...

The rule of thumb to not be an infringement on a copyright was to change 3 things. Font style or size. Head/ear size... color. etc.

We had tons of promotional products that *almost* looked like a copyrighted product. The same applies for the "black market" Mickey's--they look just a little off! LOL



That's not true...If it's recognizable as that character you can still be sued if the copyright holder wants to take you to court. Changing something a little isn't good enough. Paying for the license or getting premission to use it is. I've heard the idea of changing it just a little before but that won't fly in court.


I should have clarified... I didn't say it was right, but that is what they did.
I particularly hate character cakes... for reasons other than copyright infringement... icon_smile.gif

KimErskine Posted 6 May 2012 , 11:24pm

If asked to do a character cake such as Mickey or Dora is it OK if I buy the toy to put on the cake? I know I'm not suppose to make them of fondant ( I have done this but only for home family cakes NEVER to sell.) I have been asked to do a few of these and buy the toys but still make extra decorations (flowers, bugs, stars. etc.) is this O.K?

jason_kraft Posted 7 May 2012 , 12:09am
Quote:
Originally Posted by KimErskine

If asked to do a character cake such as Mickey or Dora is it OK if I buy the toy to put on the cake? I know I'm not suppose to make them of fondant ( I have done this but only for home family cakes NEVER to sell.) I have been asked to do a few of these and buy the toys but still make extra decorations (flowers, bugs, stars. etc.) is this O.K?



As long as the toys are licensed you should be OK.

cakegal1195 Posted 7 May 2012 , 12:18am

wow, so even the buyer can be in trouble for infringement?? If they claim ignorance? Interesting....I guess the decorator as well then, not just the shop owner...learn more everyday.

jason_kraft Posted 7 May 2012 , 12:24am
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakegal1195

wow, so even the buyer can be in trouble for infringement?? If they claim ignorance? Interesting....I guess the decorator as well then, not just the shop owner...learn more everyday.



If the buyer posts a picture of the cake online and the copyright owner finds it, they would be the first point of contact for a potential lawsuit, but chances are the copyright owner would focus most of their efforts on the businesses involved since they tend to have deeper pockets.

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