Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Using Trademarked/Licensed Images on Cakes


Recommended Posts

Here's the problem as I understand it, and I'd like to get some discussion on the topic. We have guests that want cakes with copyrighted/trademarked/licensed characters on them... i.e Lightning McQueen, Little Mermaid, Yo Gabba Gabba etc. From what I understand, we can not create these characters ourselves out of fondant or cake, but are limited to either buying plastic toys to put on top or using software from Bake Deco (or other companies). What about sculpted cakes? I see pictures from other bakeries that do that... are they risking lawsuits? Or am I being paranoid?

Does anybody license with Disney or sports teams? Anyone had experiences they'd like to share? Using those plastic toys or printable sheets takes all the fun out of cakes, so yeah... I don't know. Thing is, people WANT all their kids favorite characters ON the cake! What are your thoughts? And where is the line between using trademarked images as inspiration and infringement?

I look forward to hearing from my fellow cake decorators!

Stephen W.

Pastry Chef/Owner

The Sweet Life Bakery

Vineland, NJ

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not going to get into the ethical side of should you or shouldn't you.

But if you do, it's all about whether you get caught; you run the risk of paying a fine or whatever the penalty is and whether you can afford to pay it. I don't know what the chances are of getting caught and being prosecuted; while the copyright infringement attorneys are busy, I can only guess they're looking at big fish and not little cake decorators or mom-and-pop bakeries. When Debbie Brown (in the UK) published popular children's character books, she has several disclaimers about having permission to recreate the characters in cake, and if you make these cakes they are for personal use only. So I guess if you were to put pictures of cakes you've done with licensed characters, you should show that they were "not for sale". But I'm not sure that's a lot of protection, especially if you have a whole portfolio of things like that and not a big family :wink:

If you do decide to replicate a character, you could try to make it resemble the popular character and leave off some feature or other so that it is not an exact replica. I know that years ago, Earlene Moore warned a friend of mine to remove her picture of a Tabasco bottle done in cake; evidently Earlene knew of someone who was caught and warned by the company to cease and desist.

I have no idea how many decorators who copy baseball caps or hockey bags, football helmets, etc with the logos of their favorite team are caught. But there are lot of places doing it!

Edited by JeanneCake (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

All I can say is that in 18 years of decorating, I've never seen the cake cops pull up to my shop and arrest me. Perhaps I'm "living on the edge" but I just don't worry about it that much. However, I do do what Jeanne said, and that is, I leave off a small portion of what makes the character what it is. For instance, if I do Spiderman, I leave off the spider logo on the front of his costume.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Similar Content

    • By artiesel
      Has anyone successfully made candied chestnuts (marrons glace) at home which even remotely resemble the professional ones you get from Europe?
      I've tried making them using RTE Chinese chestnuts from Costco with varying success:
      One batch became leathery after being simmered in (what started out as) simple syrup which had its sucrose concentration gradually increased.
      I have also tried soaking the chestnuts in hot water prior to beginning the candying process.  The nuts, once again, developed a tough skin after a few days.  To reverse the tough skins I added more water to the syrup, broke the nuts up into pieces and simmered them gently for a few hours.
      While some pieces have a tough skin, many of them have taken on a candied texture.
      Should any further attempts to candy chestnuts be attempted using the method of slowly simmering them in simple syrup?
      Please share any feedback ypu may have.  Thanks!
    • By ShylahSinger
      Hello! I'm fairly new to this site so I don't know if my search was weak. I'm trying to find a way to make Mandarin orange puree at home, but I couldn't find anything even similar in the forum. I am a home cook, but I have been making chocolate bonbons and other confections for over 4 years (intermitantly). It is too expensive for me to purchase this online- not because of the price of the puree, but the cost of shipping makes it prohibative. The recipes I've seen online are all differant and don't seem to be what I need. 
      I would love any help with this! I look forward to hearing and learning from those who have much, much more experience than me. Thanks!
    • By Darienne
      In hopes of sleeping better, etc, etc, I have currently given up gluten, dairy and now sugar.  The gluten and dairy pose no problems...the sugar does.  I am not happy using mannitol or erythritol or any of those artificial sweeteners...they give me severe digestive problems.   But I can tolerate stevia very nicely.  The only problem is that there doesn't seem to be much sweetened with this ingredient.
      I do have a carob/coconut oil/peanut butter/stevia candy of sorts.  I don't really like it all that much, but it does work.  That's about it.
      Has anyone any recipes for desserts using stevia?  Thanks.
    • By Janet Taylor
      Ever since Todd talked making cupcakes I have been cupcake crazy. Although, I am not a cake maker but more of a pie person.
      My first dessert that I love that I make is my Coconut Cream Pie w/heavy whipped cream. I don't use low fat anything and probably angioplasties is necessary after this baby.
      My second is Peach Cobbler w/rich vanilla ice cream. I never met a cobbler that I didn't like, but peach is my favorite.
      I don't make these often because I wouldn't be able to get through the front door if I did.
      How about yours?
    • By amyneill
      Hi all!! 
      I work at an amazing little New Zealand Style ice cream shop in the beautiful Denver Colorado. I was hoping to get a little help on the subject of adding fruit into ice cream after extracting it and ensuring that, when the ice cream is frozen, the fruity bits don't turn into rock hard shards. I am planning on doing a cherry chocolate ice cream and I was going to soak some dried cherries that we're no longer using for something else. I was planning on using some brandy and a ton of sugar, but I was really hoping someone had a tried and true method they could send my way so that I KNOW that the fruit will be luscious as it's frozen. If you have a certain sugar ratio. I know there is the brix test, but to be honest it's been many years since pastry school and I am very rusty. Would love to hear from some of my fellow sugar-heads. 
      Thank you!
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...