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Découpage of Disney napkins onto items - copyright infringe

Posted: Thu Sep 08, 2016 11:39 pm
by Greenbeanchick
I have bought a selection of paper napkins some are original Disney items and depict Disney characters and some original Marvel napkins, showing Marvel characters. If I cut out the characters and using an artistic method to attach these items to a glass/mason jar and arrange them on the glass and then decorate the glass in my own way. Is this treated as copyright infringement, or is this similar to the use of comics for decoupage of picture frames and furniture?

Many thanks in advance for your help :)

Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2016 7:42 am
by AndyJ
Hi greenbeanchick,

I'm guessing that as you mention comics, picture frames and furniture, you have already read these
threads: here and here, and possibly also here. If so then I can't really add anything which is specific to your idea.

The chances are that some if not all of the actual characters you want to transfer in this way will be registered trade marks, and so you need to check whether any of them are registered in a class (probably 21) which would apply to your finished decorated jars (are they ornamental or practical?). You can do this using the Intellectual Property Office website search tool*, and putting the name of each character in the text search box. You can see an explanation of the various classes in this link.

The second thing to consider is the case known as Allposters v Stichting Pictoright which I described in the second thread mentioned above. I am not sure whether the method you propose to use for transferring the napkins to the jars would have the effect of dissolving the tissue or making it transparent. If it does, then it is much more likely that the Allposters decision would affect you and mean that this kind of transposition could be seen as infringing.

But those caveats aside, merely re-purposing something you have bought, without any copying, should not amount to infringement of copyright.

* At the time of writing this feature was temporarily unavailable.

Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:37 am
by Greenbeanchick
Essentially the technique glues the paper napkin to the item, then glitter and embellishments are added around the character. So if the character is Trademarked (they undoubtedly will be), I cannot do this and sell the items?

If a customer provided me with the napkin and asked me to do this for them, would that be infringement also?

I am brand new to all of this so my apologies if I am asking what seem to be extremely basic questions.

Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:59 am
by Greenbeanchick
Oh, and also if I were to buy Disney figurines/cake toppers (plastic Disney figures which can be used on decorative cakes), if they are glued to a glass and sold, is that infringement?

Many thanks

Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2016 12:01 pm
by Nick Cooper
As an example, one current Mickey Mouse trademark is quite extensive and includes Class 21, i.e.:

"Household or kitchen utensils and containers (not of precious metal or coated therewith); combs and sponges; brushes (except paint brushes); brush-making materials; articles for cleaning purposes; steelwool; unworked or semi-worked glass (except glass used in building); glassware, porcelain and earthenware (included in class 21); beverageware; beverage glassware; bird houses; bowls; brooms; cake pans; cake molds; cake servers; candle holders not of precious metal; candle snuffers; canteens; ceramic figurines; coasters not of paper and not being table linen; cookie jars; cookie cutters; cork screws; cups; decorating bags for confectioners; decorative crystal prisms; decorative glass; decorative plates; dishes; figurines made of china, crystal, earthenware, glass, or porcelain; flowerpots; hair brushes; heat-insulated vessels; insulating sleeve holders for beverage containers; lunch boxes; mugs; napkin holders; napkin rings not of precious metals; paper cups; paper plates; pie pans; pie servers; plastic cups; plates; soap dishes; tea kettles; tea sets; thermal insulated containers for food or beverage; toothbrushes; trays; trivets; vacuum bottles; waste baskets."

Given Disney's notoriously litigious track record, I doubt what you propose is feasible in any commercial sense.

Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2016 2:18 pm
by Greenbeanchick
Thank you so very much for the replies to this post, as I was going around in circles from the information I was finding online. You honestly don't know how I much appreciate the guidance you have both given to me and I want to thank you as you have prevented me from making a big mistake in the infancy of my business.