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Seriously confused hobbyist

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
I currently make cakes for fun and for free. I have been asked by many people how much I would charge for a cake. I have not charged anyone, however, more and more people are beggining to ask. So as I read more and more information on CC, I find out things I had no idea about.

First, Is it true I cannot charge for a cake? Whether to make profit or not. From my understanding, it is illegal.

Second, I cannot do character based cakes without permissions from the company who creates these characters. Is this also true?

I am sure that there are many people who do not abide by these rules, but I want to do what is right by me.

I do not plan on making a business, but would love to someday be able to sell a small amount of cakes for special occassions. Any advice and help would be appreciated. icon_smile.gif
post #2 of 48
The character cake thing is true everywhere.

Being able to have a home-based bakery depends totally on your state's laws.
post #3 of 48
Hi Charmed! Good on you for trying to find out the laws and regulations that pertaining to selling food you've made in your home. The first thing you need to do is contact your local authority - in the USA it appears that each state has different laws on cottage food businesses. You may very well be able to bake and sell form your home, depending on where you live. Even so, you will need to be compliant in food safety and handling, which often involves inspection and certification. If you let us know where you're from, someone with local knowledge will advise, I am sure.

Secondly, re: Disney characters etc - you are correct. You cannot sell any cake made that bears any resemblance to registered/trademarked/copyrighted characters. And Disney apparently is the worst compant to offend, from what I hear.

Good luck in your search for more information!

Life's too short to make cake pops.
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www.sweetperfectioncakes.blogspot.com.au/
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Life's too short to make cake pops.
___________________________________
www.sweetperfection.com.au

www.sweetperfectioncakes.blogspot.com.au/
www.facebook.com/sweetperfectioncakes (come visit sometime!)

Reply
post #4 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by charmed1212

First, Is it true I cannot charge for a cake? Whether to make profit or not. From my understanding, it is illegal.


If you live in a state with a cottage food law, you meet the requirements for that law, and you are compliant with zoning rules in your town, you can legally sell cakes made from your home kitchen. If not, you would need to rent a commercial kitchen or build another kitchen on your property that can pass inspection.

Quote:
Quote:

Second, I cannot do character based cakes without permissions from the company who creates these characters. Is this also true?


Correct. Some copyright owners will grant permission to sell cakes with their characters on them, some won't. It is perfectly OK to sell a generic cake with a licensed topper of a copyrighted character though, since the manufacturer of the cake topper has already paid a license fee.
post #5 of 48
I have been doing a few cakes for family and very close friends...i have charged only for ingrediants. Is that okay to do? I am in maryland and I am pretty sure I cant make a profit of making cakes or advertise etc.
post #6 of 48
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone!

I currently reside in Florida. I didn't realize that there was so much to this! icon_eek.gif I want to make sure that I get things right.

Does anyone know how to go about getting character permissions? Does this have to be done for personal cakes, i.e. my daughter's birthday cake?

Thanks again for everyone taking the time to answer. icon_smile.gif
post #7 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by shari3boys

I have been doing a few cakes for family and very close friends...i have charged only for ingrediants. Is that okay to do? I am in maryland and I am pretty sure I cant make a profit of making cakes or advertise etc.


It doesn't matter if you make a profit, break even, or even lose money...if your state does not have a cottage food law you cannot legally charge higher than $0 for food made in your home kitchen.
post #8 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by charmed1212

Thank you everyone!

I currently reside in Florida. I didn't realize that there was so much to this! icon_eek.gif I want to make sure that I get things right.

Does anyone know how to go about getting character permissions? Does this have to be done for personal cakes, i.e. my daughter's birthday cake?

Thanks again for everyone taking the time to answer. icon_smile.gif


I'm pretty sure you can make character cakes as long as you don't sell them. You can't profit off of the company's characters without their permission.
Sometimes family makes the best friends, and sometimes friends make the best family.
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Sometimes family makes the best friends, and sometimes friends make the best family.
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post #9 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by shari3boys

I have been doing a few cakes for family and very close friends...i have charged only for ingrediants. Is that okay to do? I am in maryland and I am pretty sure I cant make a profit of making cakes or advertise etc.


It doesn't matter if you make a profit, break even, or even lose money...if your state does not have a cottage food law you cannot legally charge higher than $0 for food made in your home kitchen.



WOW i didnt realize this at all.. I guess I could have them go buy all the ingredients and could then make it for them....
post #10 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by charmed1212

I currently reside in Florida. I didn't realize that there was so much to this! icon_eek.gif I want to make sure that I get things right.


I believe FL recently passed a cottage food bill, so once it takes effect later this year you should be OK baking from home if you qualify (and if you comply with municipal zoning ordinances).

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Does anyone know how to go about getting character permissions? Does this have to be done for personal cakes, i.e. my daughter's birthday cake?


It is still technically infringing, but as long as you don't publish pictures of the cake in connection with a commercial business you should be fine using copyrighted characters on a cake for personal use only.
post #11 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by shari3boys

WOW i didnt realize this at all.. I guess I could have them go buy all the ingredients and could then make it for them....


Some states have an exemption that allows you to bake commercially in a customer's kitchen without requiring a health dept inspection. If MD is one of those states then you should be OK, the exemption is meant for personal chef services but that's essentially what you would be doing.

Baking in your own kitchen with ingredients bought by someone else would still be considered commercial (you just received compensation in goods instead of cash), but it would be tough to prove and the risk would be pretty low. If you want to be 100% legal baking from your home kitchen without a cottage food law you would have to donate the cakes with no strings attached.
post #12 of 48
There is a thread on The Cottage Food Bill in Florida, it might be helpful. I'm in NWFL, it is supposed to be effective July 1, 2011...fingers crossed nothing changes.

http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-712309-florida.html+cottage+bill
post #13 of 48
Thread Starter 
Awesome! Thank you!

Jason-Lisa I will start reading now. icon_smile.gif

Last question and I won't bug anymore.... How do you get permission to use the characters? Anyone done this before?
post #14 of 48
To get permission you write to the company and ask for a "one use permission". Generally you contact the PR department. I have grooms do this quite a bit to get permission to use a team logo, which they frequently want on their cake.

With cartoon characters, you likely won't have a lot of luck. Just make the cake a background and buy toys to put on top of the cake.
Answers to the most often asked questions re: SPS. SPS instructions are on Page 15 of the Sticky at the top of the Cake Decorating Forum. Supplies can be ordered from Oasis Supply, Global or BakeryCrafts.
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Answers to the most often asked questions re: SPS. SPS instructions are on Page 15 of the Sticky at the top of the Cake Decorating Forum. Supplies can be ordered from Oasis Supply, Global or BakeryCrafts.
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post #15 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kristie925

Quote:
Originally Posted by charmed1212

Thank you everyone!

I currently reside in Florida. I didn't realize that there was so much to this! icon_eek.gif I want to make sure that I get things right.

Does anyone know how to go about getting character permissions? Does this have to be done for personal cakes, i.e. my daughter's birthday cake?

Thanks again for everyone taking the time to answer. icon_smile.gif


I'm pretty sure you can make character cakes as long as you don't sell them. You can't profit off of the company's characters without their permission.



NO NO NO!!!!!! Disney, for one, is very explicit that you cannot even make a cake for non-profit with their characters. It states very plainly in their copyright rules - you can only make a character cake if it's for your immediate family and does not leave your home. Immediate family, by law, does not include your sister (this of course assumes you are married and living on your own), your sister's kids or even your mom. They are extended family. If you are underage and live with your sis, then she is immediate family as are your parents. So, no, you cannot bake a Winnie the Pooh cake and take it to Sunday School as a donation or give your nephew a Buzz Lightyear cake. Won't fly if you are caught.
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