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Can your kid's superhero birthday cake and decorations get you into hot water?

17 September 2021 12:29 PM
Tags:
Copyright law
copyright

Refilwe Moloto speaks to Christine Strutt, of head of trademarks at Von Seidels about when you are infringing copyright law.
Copyright: siempreverde22 / 123rf

These days kiddies' birthday parties have become big events and often feature cakes and decorations of the likes of Buzz Lightyear, Princess Elsa from Frozen, Iron Man, Mulan, and more.

Is it legal to print out your own images of these copyright brands onto party packs, and how legitimate are those items of merchandise?

Some baking supply stores now specify that they cannot print edible cake toppings featuring certain characters anymore due to trademark restrictions - so where is the legal line in the sand?

To help us navigate this subject, Refilwe chats to Christine Strutt, partner and head of trademarks at Von Seidels, and who is also a mom to two young children so she understands the conundrum.

Strutt outlines various scenarios.

Let's say I go to the internet and there is a website that allows me to download printables, pay for them, and they have, for instance, famous cartoon characters on them, to use as invites, then there is then nothing wrong with using those for my child's party.

Christine Stutt, Head of Trademarks - Von Seidels

But should I download some other image for free and just print it on my child's party invites that would be an infringing act.

Christine Stutt, Head of Trademarks - Von Seidels

In that case, we have to ask, is this an infringing act? And according to the law there absolutely is, because there was a copyrighted image on it or potentially even a trademark.

Christine Stutt, Head of Trademarks - Von Seidels

Even though there is an infringement, am I the one who is using it in an infringement manner, or is my use excused by one of the exceptions in the copyright act or the trademark act?

Christine Stutt, Head of Trademarks - Von Seidels

Essentially it is about whether someone is profiting off the usage of the images.

There is definitely copyright on an image but me using it for personal use at home privately is excusable in the copyright law. But the person who is making the image available to me, a website, a printer, or even a bakery using it on a cake, if they are profiting from using this copyrighted work in a commercial setup, unfortunately, their act is not excused by any of these sections in our IP laws.

Christine Stutt, Head of Trademarks - Von Seidels



17 September 2021 12:29 PM
Tags:
Copyright law
copyright

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