I am just about to start my own part-time cake business in the UK and am busily writing my website and getting things ready. Over the years, I have made several cakes for friends which are characters from TV shows (Disney/sesame street etc). I then read somewhere on this forum that I could not use these images for marketing without a licence from the company due to copyright. Somewhat disappointed (these cakes were the best examples of my work!), I just decided to live with it and perhaps look into getting a licence in the future however yesterday, I was talking with the owner of a cake decorating shop who told me that providing I don't use the name of the character in question, it was no problem. For example, I may have made a cake that looked like Elmo, but providing i just called it a 'red character' cake, then it was no problem at all... Can anyone clarify this situation for me? I have consulted a few friends who are lawyers but none seem to have the answer either! (for info, I am in the UK).
Many thanks in advance
For example, I may have made a cake that looked like Elmo, but providing i just called it a 'red character' cake, then it was no problem at all...
That's incorrect. If the design on a cake looks like a copyrighted character, it is infringement, even if you don't use the character's name.
You don't necessarily need an official license to reproduce a copyrighted character, written permission from the copyright owner should be enough.