Selling Licensed or Trademarked Work

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They sell licensed fabric with college logos, popular characters, and many more licensed designs, but I heard that a fellow crafter got a cease and desist order the other day? What’s the story? Get an overview of what all this means from Maria Nerius.

Patented Selling Licensed or Trademarked Work

When walking craft shows, I cringe a little when I see a handmade Winnie the Pooh plush animal or a quilt with a college logo. These are licensed and trademarked characters or logos and selling them without permission and a legal agreement with the owner of the copyright or trademark is a big No-No for professional crafters. You can end up in big trouble, spending time, energy, and money if you aren’t properly licensed to sell this kind of work. By law, you are taking money out of the pockets of these companies, and when it comes to money, companies can get very serious.

Companies (and some artists) go through a complex and expensive process to copyright and trademark characters, logos, images, and designs. They are responsible for protecting their brands. Disney is famous for walking art and craft shows to make sure none of their licensed work is being used as part of a handmade item for sale. Disney immediately sends out a “Cease and Desist” order. In the end, they can legally confiscate the items and demand for payment from any items you have sold.

It is not worth the risk to mess with licensed designs, logos, or other copyrighted characters. Avoid using fabrics that include professional sports teams, cartoon characters, or branded images like a Coke bottle in items you’re going to sell. As a craft professional, use your own imagination to create — don’t rely others. You can create and trademark your own characters, designs, and logos! If you do want to create and sell items with your favorite college football team or even that silly old bear, contact the proper authority and negotiate an agreement.

Many creative people formally register their works and can then license a design in many ways — from fabric to napkins and greeting cards. It’s an excellent way to round out your portfolio and let a design bring in income for years to come. Have you licensed your work? Let us know your story.

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  • wp socializer sprite mask 16px Selling Licensed or Trademarked Work
  • wp socializer sprite mask 16px Selling Licensed or Trademarked Work
  • wp socializer sprite mask 16px Selling Licensed or Trademarked Work
  • wp socializer sprite mask 16px Selling Licensed or Trademarked Work
  • wp socializer sprite mask 16px Selling Licensed or Trademarked Work
  • wp socializer sprite mask 16px Selling Licensed or Trademarked Work
  • wp socializer sprite mask 16px Selling Licensed or Trademarked Work
  • wp socializer sprite mask 16px Selling Licensed or Trademarked Work

Comments

  1. Elisa Duesling says:

    I researched this topic extensively! I was told that when you purchase the material from a fabric store or online, then you are paying the company for the item. You can sell the items to individuals, but not to companies. This is what I was told several years ago and I assume the same is still true, only common sense!

  2. DebbieKinil says:

    I have found some interesting things about the use and restriction of licensed fabric bought in the public domain. NOTE: I am NOT a lawyer and not giving legal advice.

    Often fabric store employees will point out wording regarding the use of the fabric. The wording is printed on the fabric’s salvage.

    HOWEVER -There is nothing in federal or state statute that says a disclaimer on the binding of the selvage means anything at all to the purchaser. The purchaser of the items can’t be a 3rd party to the contract between the licensed manufacturer and the owner of the copyright.

    To be with in a legal use of licensed fabric, this what I have found based on some of my research into this situation.

    A crafter may use the fabric to make items for resale. HOWEVER..(the great however) the crafter MUST do the below to avoid problems when selling items made with licensed fabric.

    The crafter must clearly state that their item is handmade with the licensed fabric and the item is NOT a licensed product by that company . AND there must be a disclaimer that says you are not affiliated with the licensing company.

    For example …
    It’s a quilt with Disney Princess Fabric. It is NOT a Disney Princess Quilt.

    The disclaimer should go like this.
    ” This is not a licensed Disney Product, it is handcrafted w/care from licensed disney material. Sellername is not affilated with or sponsored by Disney.”

    NEVER, NEVER, REPRODUCE a licensed or copyrighted image, by painting, drawing, or using any type of copying.

    INSTEAD, buy the images. For example- if you use things like stickers use the PURCHASED sticker. Scanning the design into your computer and printing off as many as you want is copyright infringement and illegal.

  3. Good insight. I have a related question.

    I’ve been making and selling jewelry from recycled bottle caps that have trademarked company logos on them (Sam Adams, Corona, etc.). Before I move onto selling these at craft fairs or pitching them to local shops, I want to look into any licenses I would need to acquire to legally sell these trademarked logos on recycled beer caps. Is there anything you can point me towards to help me here? Does it matter that my product is created with recycled materials that have trademarked logos on them?

    Thanks!

  4. Carolyn Thomas says:

    I like all of the info. It helps alot.
    I found out that when I made my own pattern and made a crochet I-H Framall blacket for my son. That I was told that I couldnt sale it because of the Framall logo was on it. But, I feel like I made it out of my own head and made the pattern that I can sale it. What do you think? Carol

  5. Can I crochet something and give it as a gift? Like a spongebob doll?

  6. I make Domino Pendant Jewelry with Fairies that I have gotten off of Google images. I had a problem at one time with someone saying I was not allowed to use the image that I had gotten off of a public domain site. I informed Outbid of the problems I was having with the whole copyright thing and I was told if I was using the images to write down the link information and where I had gotten it from to avoid this kind of problem. So my question is if a public domain site like google images has oodles and oodles of images on it and I write down the name of the company who has put it on there to be used can I still be held liable for what they are putting on there site to be used? Thank You Dee

    • Google images is not a public domain site. It is a search engine and it will find images, both royalty free and not. Just because something is on the internet, does not make it free. Even if an image does not belong to a large company, like Disney, it DOES belong to the artist, even if that artist is a 15 year old doodling in his or her spare time – that’s just how copyright laws work. There are a lot of artists that do it for the joy of doing it, have no interest in profiting, and would love nothing more than for their art to reach the far corners of the Earth, so it’s not like you can’t ever use an image for free. The bottom line is, unless the website hosting the content specifically says their images are royalty free (in which case use some common sense – Disney will NEVER be royalty free – and take a screen shot of the page and image where it says you have the right to use it free of charge), ask permission. You may just get a simple “of course,” you may get some conditions and an expectation of compensation (which is completely fair because you are profiting off THEIR art), which is tax-deductible, by the way, even if this is just a hobby for you, or you may be told “no.” Either way, respect the artist.

  7. Suzanne Broadhurst says:

    Very useful info for selling. I’m wondering now about gifting? Can items be crafted (such as plastic canvas coasters) using a self-made design from the general idea of a college logo, if the items are given solely as gifts?

  8. Google images are NOT public domain. Public domain means the copyright has expired or the creator willingly put the item in the public domain. Just because something is on the internet and visible to the public, that does not make it public domain.

  9. Wendy Valente says:

    I was wondering if you have received any information regarding this. I am making an item out of recycled beer products and am having a hard time finding information on legality. I’d really appreciate any information you have. ~wendy

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