Trademark Issues: Can You Make & Sell Dr. Seuss Themed Products?

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With Christmas coming, I know that so many craft businesses are currently working on holiday products. Today is a great day to talk about making handmade products related to Dr. Seuss and his characters; like the Grinch, the Lorax, Cindy Lou Who, Thing One and Thing Two, Sam-I-Am, and many more.

Can You Make and Sell Dr. Seuss Products?

Unfortunately, Dr. Seuss designs and quotes are not in the public domain and cannot be used on products for sale without written permission from Dr. Seuss Enterprises. Since Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) passed away in 1991, all licensing agreements are handled though Random House.

Licensing Information

I emailed Random House for information about the possibility of at home craft businesses obtaining a license to legally use Dr. Seuss quotes and images in products. I immediately received a generic response that included this statement:

“Please know that Dr. Seuss text, characters, and images are protected by copyright and trademark law and may not be used without the prior written consent of Dr. Seuss Enterprises.”

I also received an email back a few hours later from Jenna Marson, Licensing & Marketing Coordinator, that basically stated that Dr. Seuss Enterprises was not currently offering licenses and “due to contractual restrictions with our current licensees who produce items in these categories” they could not discuss requirements to get a license.

In response to Jenna, I asked if Dr. Seuss Enterprises ever offered licenses to small or home based businesses and what the hypothetical requirements would be. My email went unanswered.

If you’d like to reach out to Random House for information on licensing Dr. Seuss properties for your Silhouette or Cricut small business, reach them through this page.

I will continue to update this post if I receive additional information from Random House/Dr. Seuss Enterprises. In the meantime, know that selling handmade Dr. Seuss themed products without a licensing deal is an infringement and is illegal.

Can You Make and Sell Handmade Grinch and Other Dr. Seuss Products with Your Silhouette Portrait or Cameo and Cricut Explore or Maker - by cuttingforbusiness.com

Note: All images used in the featured image for this article were downloaded from Etsy. This is within copyright guidelines because this post is considered educational material.

17 thoughts on “Trademark Issues: Can You Make & Sell Dr. Seuss Themed Products?”

  1. Hello Christine,
    Thanks for keeping us informed about various copyright violations!! Are quotes from Dr Seuss included in the copyright, or is it just images?
    Just for fun I searched Etsy for Dr. Seuss and there are over 17,700 products!!! I’m guessing these aren’t all in copyright violation.
    Thanks again!
    Donna

    1. Dr. Seuss Enterprises has noted this: “Please know that Dr. Seuss text, characters, and images are protected by copyright and trademark law and many not be used without the prior written consent of Dr. Seuss Enterprises.” According to them, this includes text.

  2. Hi Christine.
    Is this to say that you can use them for yourself but not to sell?
    I understood that it would be against copyright to copy for any reason.

    Can you confirm this either way please?

    1. Trademarks are always trademarks whether it is personal use or commercial use. When you infringe on a trademark for personal use, it’s unlikely that the company will take any action against you because no money is exchanging hands.

  3. I am wondering the following: If a person purchases a costume of the Cat in the Hat – wears it, and does a photoshoot with other children is that against rules or guidelines anywhere? I am asking cuz several of us wanted to do a themed photo shoot for reading week. Decorate the room in our own way but have the guy dressed in the custume with kids coming for the fun of it. Is this allowed? It would be personal use not selling the photo’s by any means at all – I have tried to find links on line for hours to send a inquiry no luck at all.

  4. This is in line with NFL and College material being sold in retail stores with only a small signage stating for personal use only. I know during this pandemic we are all living in I see sports team related face masks everywhere for sale, Facebook, Instagram, Etsy and local neighborhood garage sales. I as a small home based business find it sad that as a person who refuses to break the law it sure would be easy to follow suit just to make a sale in these hard times.

  5. THANK YOU! I sell on Etsy and have been seeing an increasing amount of Dr. Seuss & Disney trademark infringement. You explain the topic so much better than I can (in both articles). I will be sure to direct my fellow Etsy makers here if need be.

  6. How in the world do you get in touch with someone about a license to use artwork? Random House runs in circles. Seussville no longer has a link available for that info. Can you please direct me to where I can actually communicate with someone about licensing information for grinch artwork?

  7. Question I have is, I own a cricut for the specific purpose of making designer items for myself to wear. Like chanel masks,and Louis Vuitton masks and shirts and shoes. I dont sell these items but would like to showcase them on a blog page or a facebook group of my own. Can I get sued for this even though I dont take orders for selling.

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