If I buy a doll on eBay, is it mine or tied to the maker? I would like to use them for a project I am working on.
For one-off arts-and-craft projects and small local craft shows, you're fine. If you were to bulk-buy a trademarked toy and modify them all for commercial re-sale, the original-dolls' intellectual property attorneys might have questions. (This is the opinion from my partner, who works in the doll field.)
As a small business owner, I will tell you what was recommended to me before I set up my business. Invest in time with a lawyer who specializes in what you are doing and follow their guidance to the letter.
This is the only way you will be protected. Your lawyer will be there to defend you if for some reason they gave you information that someone is challenging.
Three things NEVER to skimp on in business are a lawyer, a tax professional who knows your location (city/state/country) and an insurance person to tell you if you are at risk if someone gets hurt with your product (for example--if you are able to use old dolls you get on eBay for example, they are typically EXTREMELY fragile and if you sent one to someone that you did something to and it arrived broken and they were cut by it, you could be liable).
Blessings on your venture!! Post back how it goes!
I think since you are asking this question on this site, then most likely you are not yet ready to pay for the services of a lawyer and want to first find out the opinion of members of this community.
It depends on the project. For instance, if I were to make a dress and sell it, I could not put a likeness of a Disney character on it because that is licensed for only Disney to use.
Please be more specific about the project.
I am looking for a particular doll that's really pretty. I want to mass market them . I cant give much away as I am only starting out. I won't be saying they look like anyone as I have my own names for them Thanks
Brand names on items are there for a reason;
it is usually copyrighted and that means it is protected from sources that want to use it without the owner's permission.
ThriftyFun is not a site that members can offer legal advice; members can only offer information that was obtained by doing open research (usually info available free to anyone) or from personal experience so please be sure you find what is legal from reliable legal advisors before you start any project that is open/available to the public.
It's for sure that if you follow 'suggestions/information' found on ThriftyFun and later find that even some/part of the information was incorrect, you will not be able to use 'info provided on ThriftyFun' as your defense.
I believe if you will provide information as to what type of project you are working on, some members may be able to provide assistance that can be verified as being 'legal/illegal'.
Thanks for asking; very interesting question.
If you want to manufacture dolls and copy faces of other dolls (other brands), then you may have a trademark and patent infringement. Toys are registered for trademarks, not for copyright. Here was a discussion of a similar issue by attorneys www.avvo.com/
Either negotiate with brands (contact a Trademark/IP attorney) or create dolls with new faces.
From your description of your potential project then you will definitely need legal advice - an attorney that specializes in copyright laws.
I do not believe you can legally copy the face of a brand-name doll to use on a product you intend to manufacture and sell unless you have written permission from the licensed owner of the face/doll.
If you intend to sell a product it would even be difficult to even use the brand name face and make subtle changes to try and get around the 'copying' law. Yes, legal advice you do need.
Please go back and read Pghgirl's answer so you can at least get an idea of what is involved.