Stealing or "Flattery" Part 2- Designs

I once had a bride who was getting married at a certain country club, and she brought me their brochure to show me the cake that she wanted. I asked her if the chef at the club should be making the cake, since it was shown on their brochure, and she said that she didn't want them to do it for some reason. I did that design, but I was really nervous about insulting the chef at the club when I walked in with a copy of one of his cakes. As it turns out, the photo wasn't from the chef's work at all, it was just a random picture of a cake, and they didn't even have a pastry chef on staff there. (That's an example of people using other people's pictures and not being able to deliver what's shown, by the way.)

I have clients bring photos of other bakers' cakes, whether from the internet or from wedding magazines, pretty frequently. Sometimes they like one thing about the cake, but sometimes they want exactly the same design. I'm not a huge fan of copying someone else's cakes detail-for-detail, but if that's what the bride wants, that's what she gets. I'll try to get her to change some details so that the cake is different, but that's not always possible.

The difficulty comes in the "giving credit where credit is due" department.

I'm not an attorney, so I'm not going to get into copyright legalities, but I know what feels right and wrong to me, and if I use someone else's design I give credit for the original design on my website. (See the top row here... ) I've had people copy my cake designs and post pictures on their websites without giving me credit for the original design, and it really ticks me off. If I know who did a cake, I will give them credit for it.

However, sometimes I don't know who the original designer is.

Maybe the picture the bride brings in doesn't have a name on it. Maybe I've seen the cake before, but I know that the person who made the one in the picture copied it from someone else. The cake in the picture I was given might be two or three-times removed from the original designer.

Maybe the design isn't something really original, like polka dots. Do I give someone credit for inventing something common like fondant stripes or basketweave piping? That doesn't really make sense.

So...If I know the cake is an original design, and I know the decorator, I give them credit for the original design on my website. If I don't know the details, or I know it isn't original to that person, I don't. If someone wrote to me tomorrow and pointed out that they were the originator of a certain design, I'd look into it.

What I wouldn't do is copy someone's cake exactly and put it on my website without credit. I wouldn't take someone else's design and enter it in a cake decorating contest, either. I've seen that happen, too, and it always makes me mad for the people whose designs were used by someone else.

And as I mentioned in the first part of this article series, I have watermarked all of my cake photos. If someone prints something off of my website to show another decorator, they can feel free to call me to see if the cake was my original design or not before they post photos of any copy cakes!

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, cake supplies online at and
 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and