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A Crash Course in decorating with trademarks!

Updated: Apr 24, 2021

Key Takeaways:

  • Many customers request cakes featuring popular, but trademarked characters, logos, and images

  • No bakery can legally recreate trademarked images except under special circumstances

  • Simply Decadent respects trademark law and only recreates such images as allowed

  • We can work with you to ensure you get the perfect cake without running afoul of trademark owners

Not a week goes by when we don’t get asked to incorporate some awesome character into a cake, cookie, or cupcake. This always represents a challenge for us. As we always say, it is our goal to create “desserts designed for you”. However, in this area we are often limited in our ability to incorporate trademarked images and characters. To address this challenge, we have a few tricks we use to make sure you get the cake you want and we stay on the right side of the law! #doingtherightthing

"From Pokemon, Bengals, and Ohio State University to Star Wars, Captain America, and Daniel Tiger, many of the most popular characters fall under trademark protection."

This is something that many of our customers don't fully understand (we are still working to learn all the nuances). But there are several good resources that we take advantage of to ensure we understand our options and limitations. A few key ones are here if you are really interested:


Option 1 - With permission, anything is possible

In order to utilize and recreate a trademarked item, we must obtain permission from the owner of that intellectual property. In some cases, that is quite simple. But in most instances, this is nearly impossible for a small business, like Simply Decadent, to achieve. The challenge lies in both cost (trademark owners often charge substantial upfront and per unit costs to utilize their trademark) and legal complexity (did you know Ohio State University requires that its logo to be a unique shade of scarlet and gray - that is hard to ensure when you are mixing your icing colors for every cake).

Wherever feasible, we seek to obtain permission to utilize trademarks. For example, we are one of the only bakeries in the area with permission to recreate local university and high school logos. These come in very handy around graduation time!

When the customer is also the trademark owner, it gets simpler. We often receive limited permission to recreate specific logos or images for a company sponsored event or function.


Option 2 - Themes make all the difference!

When we look at a request for a trademarked cake, we first explore whether or not we can create a custom cake or dessert that compliments the theme. This can take many forms but often involves understanding the show, movie, video game, or subject of the trademark. For example, we did a Moana themed party and utilized the beautiful water/sea theme to create a unique cupcake offering! Similarly, while "Jurassic World" may be trademarked, we can utilize the theme to create a really neat cake!


Option 3 - Toys, Toys, Toys!

Many of our requests are for kids birthdays. In this case, we can sometimes utilize the client's own toys to compliment the cake. As the client has purchased the licensed toys, there are no concerns incorporating them onto a cake. We often create backgrounds or scenes for the toys that do not infringe on the trademarks in question. This allows us to exactly replicate the requested theme for our client!


Option 4 - Edible Images

Cake created using edible images

We have the ability to utilize edible images on many of our desserts. These are licensed

images, printed on icing sheets and then strategically placed on cakes and cupcakes. There are a huge number of licensed and available edible images so this is a useful tool to ensure the cake is exactly as the client wishes!


Option 5 - Donating to a good cause.

We consider it an honor and responsibility to give back to our neighbors and community. As such, you will often see us donating our time, effort, money, and desserts to causes we believe in. One charity that is close to our hearts is Icing Smiles. Icing Smiles works with "Sugar Angels" like us to provide cakes to deserving local children.

"Icing Smiles is a nonprofit organization that provides custom celebration cakes and other treats to families impacted by the critical illness of a child."

In situations like this, where desserts are donated for free, we are able to recreate trademarked images for our cakes.

Trolls cake created for, and donated to Icing Smiles!


Option 6 - If all else fails, choose your trademark carefully!

Sometimes, things just work out. Like this cake we made for... wait for it... a customer named Jameson! #whenitworksitworks

Sculpted wiskey barrel cake!

Regardless of what you need, we at Simply Decadent stand ready to help bring your dessert vision to life. Call us at 937-310-1305 or send us an email here to get started!

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