I am looking for information about whether it is illegal to use fabrics such as Winnie the Pooh, Clifford, and such character prints to make and sell dresses, tote bags, etc.
Mary from Cooleemee, NC
It is actually illegal to use these images for resale items...you are expected to use them for your personal use, and not to make items for sale from them....it is being done, but it is still against the law....
I have looked up legal items on this subject and I am pleased to announce it is not illegal. Here is one of many posts on the First Sale Doctrine.
First Sale Doctrine
When someone releases fabric into the stream of commerce they effectively have relinquished control over the uses of that fabric. What we find disturbing is that there are so many people who want to believe that a pattern manufacturer or a fabric manufacturer has the right to tell you what you can and cannot do after you buy their product. It just isn't so. Imagine if General Motors tried to tell you where and when to drive a vehicle you purchased from them. Would you listen to them? Of course not!
While the pattern on the fabric may be copyrighted, the actual fabric itself is not. The pattern may include images of registered trademarks, such as the logo of the New York Yankees or a John Deere logo, etc. Licensed fabric means fabric that has been licensed by the rights owner to be manufactured and sold. It does not mean the fabric is being sold with a license. Disney licenses Springs Industries to manufacture, distribute and sell fabric that contain images of the Disney characters. That is where the term "licensed fabric" originates. For something to be sold with a license there has to be agreement between the seller and the buyer concerning the terms of the sale. Even though the selvage may make a statement that the fabric is for "non-commercial home use only", that "restriction" is not enforceable primarily because the purchaser does not have agree to the terms before purchase.
Copyright law applies to the use of licensed fabric in the application of the first sale doctrine. Bear in mind, the term "licensed fabric" legally only refers to the fact the manufacturer of the fabric has a license to use the images on the fabric. It does not mean the fabric is "licensed" to the purchaser. "Licensed" products require an agreement between the owner of the product and the potential purchaser. Fabric is not "licensed"; fabric is sold.
Judge Waterman of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, said that under the Lanham Act "one can capitalize on a market or fad created by another provided that it is not accomplished by confusing the public into mistakenly purchasing the product in the belief that the product is the product of the competitor." American Footwear Corp. v. General Footwear Co. Ltd., 609 F.2d 655, 662 (2d Cir. 1979), cert. denied, 445 U.S. 951, 100 S. Ct. 1601, 63 L. Ed. 2d 787 (1980) (finding that the manufacturer of a "Bionic Boot" did not infringe the trademark of the producers of the "Bionic Woman" television program).
You can find hundreds of things for sale at eBay that are made from disney, and all kinds of things. You can not be expected to buy fabric with copyrighted images on them, then not make things from them. Good luck!!
Sorry, but it's definitely illegal--you can only make things for PRIVATE use out of such fabrics. Making things for sale is a violation of copyright. It can also get your eBay account suspended, if you try to sell such items on eBay.
If you look closely at the selvedge edge they all say for private home use only. Not to make things for resale.
I have made and sold and given away many clothing items with licensed characters on them. I have also seen that on ebay a few times. I figure if they didn't want us to do it the they should not make the material. I have also seen products at farmers markets. Good luck
I checked it with a copyright attorney and yes you can sell items you made and it doesn't matter where you sell them if you actually made it. As the law states that I have a right to sell my artwork. So sew away and feel free as no one can tell you what you can sell or not sell if you made it. The copyright laws are for mass production of a registered trademark so you cannot sell say a purse with John Deere on it as a John Deere licenced purse but you can sell it as a homemade purse, see what I mean? Hope this helps and if anyone else wants to check it out you can google copyrights and trademarks.
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What licensing steps do I need to take to sell aprons at craft fairs or out of my home? On the bolts of fabric it often says, "licensed for home use only" or "not for commercial use".
By Jody H.
I believe the warning applies to the sale of the whole bolt or partial bolt of fabric, rather than a person using the fabric to produce something to sell. I don't think you need a license.
Actually, using the fabric to create items for resale is illegal without proper licensing from the company.
I teach sewing using commercial patterns and fabrics but am only able to get away with doing so because the patterns and fabrics are bought by the student for home use only. If I were teaching my sewing students how to craft for resale I would have to have a licensing agreement from the companies whose products I use, as would any of my students.
Disney is particularly harsh to people using their licensed materials to craft for resale, they will go after even someone as small as a local flea-market crafter. They will even go after people using 'likeness' as in an image or style they've copyrighted (Disney Princesses, Winnie The Pooh are two of the likenesses they've successfully sued over).
Another company that will hunt you down is the company with the rights to the Charlie Brown Gang, especially on the Snoopy character.
So you have to be very careful about what you use for creating a craft item for resale. Read the following forum discussion regarding licensing, it's a very interesting discussion that starts off saying "Oh yeah, it's OK" but other posters quickly disagree and provide links to cases wherein the license holders have successfully prosecuted violators:
I believe that means you can't mark the bolt up and sell it. Once you have used it to make items they are yours to sell.
A company can't dictate how you use an item once you purchase it, which is surely a violation of your rights. You have paid for the licensing by buying the fabric. After purchase, it is yours. If you are not mass producing, their should be no issue. If this issue is keeping you up at night, choose fabric without licensed characters.