Is it legal for her to sculpt a cake to look like Mickey Mouse, Hello Kitty, or other characters? 5 Answers as of June 19, 2013

My wife runs a home-based bakery and there has been a question concerning sculpted character cakes. She has been incorporating store bought, licensed, plastic figurines into the cake design rather than sculpting it in order to avoid any possible legal issues. We have observed other companies sculpting the characters. Is what they are doing legal? Did they have to obtain special permission to do it?

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Gerald Walsh | Gerald Walsh
If you sculpt a character that is protected by copyright then you may be infringing the copyright. If you purchase the sculpture in the ordinary stream of commerce then you should be able to use the sculpture.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 6/19/2013
Banner & Witcoff, Ltd. | Ernie Linek
Your wife is doing it the right way. The others risk being sued under the trademark and copyright laws. Maybe they don't care but you should.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 6/15/2013
Mark S. Hubert PC
Mark S. Hubert PC | Mark Hubert
Your wife can continue doing what she has. If she paid for legitimate items she can do what she wants with them.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 6/14/2013
Law Office of Kirk Buhler
Law Office of Kirk Buhler | Kirk A Buhler
When a company creates a character they copyright or register the likeness of the character. This gives the company the right to sue someone who uses the character without a license to reproduce the character. When you purchase a licensed plastic figurine the maker of the plastic figurine has paid the owner of the character for the right to sell the figurine. When you purchase the licensed figurine you can use the figure as you choose, because the license has been paid. If you create or sculpt the character you did not pay the license and could be sued. In general, when creating the figure "for money" the creator can be sued by the owner of the character. If a company wants to use a character they could contact the owner of the character and get a license to reproduce the character.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/14/2013
Webb IP Law Group
Webb IP Law Group | Jason P Webb
The safest course is to contact the companies who own the characters that you want to sculpt and get permission. It is probably an infringement if you don't have permission, though each company may see this differently.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 6/14/2013
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