Are you breaching Copyright?
Many of you know that I love to create my own character’s from my own imagination and make them into toys which I then sell along with co-ordinating products. I hold the copyright, design rights and all of my creations are my IP which stands for intellectual property for Odds & Soxlets and this little guy above is now my trademark character for my business.
Although their are many creative designers like myself who do create their own characters many business use the success of large corporations characters which feature in movies, tv programmes and so forth within their business perhaps without realising that they are in fact in breach of these companies copyright and trademarked characters. They are popular and the general public will most likely ask you to reproduce something without even thinking it would cause such a problem!
These large corporations are clamping down on small businesses and trading standards are closing businesses down who are breaching copyright of these companies. To use such images you need a license from the original copyright holder for the reproduction of well known companies and character based products. Without a license you are breaking the law if you make items using any of their images without consent, even reproducing similar characters and even inspired by creations you are infringing their intellectual property and would be liable if trading standards or the company that holds the copyright ever challenge you.
In the card making world their is such a thing as an angel policy which allows the general public to use craft products for paper crafting to make a small number of handmade cards using licensed images however this does not apply to other crafts, so if you are making hair accessories using character ribbon, or a phone case using character charms, you make a sock monkey using character socks, make a birthday cake with said characters or you make a doll to look like one of these well known characters and sell these items you would be in breach of their copyright and would be liable. This could mean a hefty court case and fine if it was taken to court and your business would be closed down and even your business assets removed.
Many character based products such as fabric, ribbon, cake toppers etc can be used for personal projects but must not be used for commercial gain, which basically means if you are a business then you should not be making such items and selling them. Most small businesses can not afford for their business to be closed down and their assets removed so it is always best no matter what your business is to never reproduce any well known characters in any form.The best course of action is to create your own characters and hold the copyright yourself then you can do as you please with them.
If you do not know much about copyright, intellectual property or what a trade mark means then a good reference source is this website: http://www.ipo.gov.uk
If you make cakes here is a good blog post about Cakes and Copyrighted Characters.