Can You Make and Sell Handmade Disney Products?

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I get asked a lot of questions here on Cutting for Business. Perhaps the most asked question I receive is:

“Can I make and sell Disney/Pixar/Marvel handmade products with my Silhouette or Cricut?”

Answer: “No, not legally.”

Follow up question: “But, I see them everywhere on Etsy! How do those sellers do it?”

Answer: “Illegally.”

You cannot legally make and sell any product with Disney lyrics, quotes, or characters on it without permission from The Walt Disney World Company. While some companies turn a blind eye and don’t actively pursue sellers selling their trademarked properties; Disney employs a team of people whose only job it is to hunt down people/companies using their trademarks without permission. Additionally, Disney has an email address for anyone that sees your item to turn you in themselves on the Disney website. You can access information on emailing violations to Disney at this link.

If Disney chooses to pursue a copyright or trademark violation against you, your store or shop can be shut down, you can be forced to pay back all monies made from the items, your equipment could be confiscated, and you can be prosecuted for trademark/copyright infringement.

Unfortunately for small sellers, Disney has far more resources to legally pursue you and you will not win the battle.

Disney Licensing

Disney does offer licensing to other companies to create and sell Disney products. You can find details about licensing at this link. However, it’s unlikely that any at home craft business will be able to meet the licensing requirements.

What About Cricut Cartridges?

Some Cricut cartridges have Disney images on them. These images are for personal use only as detailed in Cricut’s Angel Policy. Why? Cricut and Disney have a license agreement that allows Cricut to make and sell the cartridges, but the license agreement is between Cricut and Disney – not Disney and the end user (you).

What about Personal Use?

You can make personal use Disney creations for yourself. As long as no money exchanges hand, it’s unlikely that you’ll be bothered by Disney.

It’s important to realize that many personal use creations are still trademark infringements (like those that are traced from an internet photo). However, it simply isn’t worth it for a company to come after an individual who isn’t selling the product.

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Can You Make and Sell Handmade Disney items with my Silhouette Cameo or Cricut Explore or Maker? by cuttingforbusiness.com

72 thoughts on “Can You Make and Sell Handmade Disney Products?”

  1. I am so glad you posted this! I’m an Etsy seller and I specifically do not use licensed characters in my designs because I’ve always thought it was illegal. But if you were to search “Mickey mouse” on Etsy, hundreds of items would come up that are considered trademark infringement. I also noticed sellers are now adding something like ” I don’t claim any ownership of these characters you are simply paying me for my time to create cut and glue, etc.” I hope they don’t think that actually makes it legal.

  2. I appreciate this topic. What about things purchased, like through Cricut, that are Disney related? Fonts and images that you can buy. Are those still relegated solely for personal use?

  3. Thank you for this article! I’m always explaining this to other crafters and customers. Most of them think I’m being uptight, but getting shut down or having to pay back fees is the last thing any of us wants. Thanks, again. I’ll be referring people to your article.

  4. Hello! Here in country a trademarker caught a little cookie store in a fancy street with Mickey cookies…obviously they win and the store shut down. It was a sad story but even when we are in southamerica we must have caution about what are we selling.

  5. Hello, what if you purchase a design by someone that does digital svg/vector files and is allowed for commercial use? How does that impact small business sales and craft fair sales of those designs on products?

    1. Hi Dina, Most likely if you purchased a Disney cut file from someone – they don’t have a license to sell it. If they do, ask for a copy of their paperwork. If they have paperwork, they will be more than willing to share it.

  6. I am very curious about this issue so I hope you may be able to clarify. I design and cut wooden craft blanks and am curious if I create a design that is made up of 3 circles making the silhouettes shape of a mouse head if this would be classed as copyright infringement? Obviously it is a flat wooden shape so no other identifying features. Thanks

    1. If it could cause consumer confusion with something else that is trademarked I wouldn’t bother. Even if you did cut a three circle shape, you can’t advertise it as “Disney”, “Mouse”, or “Mickey”, because those are clear infringements. Hope that helps!

  7. what If you are doing a custom order of the Mickey ears with just their name on it or not using the word Disney? Would this be okay as long as your not making bulk items and selling?

  8. I’ve gotten a letter from Gerber because I used the word “onesie” to describe how you would use a baby milestone sticker. I was so careful in not doing anything with copywright and then that happened. It does irk me that so many people on etsy and blogs use the word “onesie” so freely and not get in trouble.

    My question actually is what if you were to just do a Disney character pinata diy for a Disney theme party. Not for sell, but what people can do for their own personal party. Would that be fine since it’s not for sell? I’ve seen lots of craft and party blogs doing disney characters and just wondering if that does not apply to the copyright rule.

    1. Hi Nancy! Making a Disney anything is still an infringement in someone’s home, but Disney doesn’t come around unless someone is selling a product. There would be no financial gain for Disney to come after people in their homes. In fact, they encourage DIY projects, as long as you aren’t selling them.

  9. My sister is going to Disneyland in a week and wanted me to make tshirts for her family to wear that have the disney ears and then their names written in the disney font. I am not selling anything – just making it for her own personal use. Am I allowed to do that?

  10. Hi. It is legal if I buy disney fabric and make diaper cover and sell. And if I buy disney ribbons and make girls bow and sell.

    1. The company I know that sells copyright fabric fabric is call Spring Creative (there may others) and on the salvage it read “Copyright for personal use only.”
      I don’t know about ribbon. But I presume, it would be written on the packaging.

  11. Hello! I am a little confused. I want to design shirts and wine glasses for moms with cute sayings on them. For example, Tshirt that says “I only make boys”. If I can get into trouble using the cricut font that I purchase, in order to create the slogan on the shirt/glass ;do I have to re-create a font so I can legal sell a product? In other words, how do you sell items with only text, without having to worry if the font is an infringement?

    1. Hello! You wouldn’t worry about the font being an infringement – you’d just need to purchase a commercial use license for the font. See this post: https://cuttingforbusiness.com/2015/01/20/understanding-licenses-on-cutting-files-designs-and-fonts-and-organizing-them-too/ .You would need to search the TESS database for the phrase itself. See this post: https://cuttingforbusiness.com/2015/10/08/tutorial-how-to-search-the-us-patent-trademark-office-tess-database/

  12. I’m in the custom fabric world and copyright infringement runs rampant there. Some designs are cute, but I am hesitant to even buy for personal use because I know they aren’t licensed. If the designer gets caught, I’m not sure if they’d go after people that bought the fabric as well.

  13. Hi
    I am currently mid debate with someone over Disney copyright. I know about the commercial usage element of it but I run a fb group where the members show cards they have made, some like to use copyright characters. It has always been my understanding that characters can be used on items that are intended for personal use only, for family or friends, and can be shown in an online group as long as they are clearly marked as ‘not for sale’. Have I misunderstood this?

    1. Hello! Trademarked material used for personal use is still an infringement of the trademark. However, since it is not being sold or used for any monetary exchange – it is hard for the trademark owner to come after the infringer.

      1. Thank you Christine, I understand to a degree but am being told categorically that any showing of any Disney themed project is in violation of their copyright and will result in trouble for our group. I just want to know if I need to remove all images and put a blanket ban on any future displays of hand made items using such characters. Disney is not a company I would willingly choose to be ambiguous about when it comes to their copyright.

        1. Unfortunately, I’m not a lawyer or attorney and cannot advise you on specifics related to your group. The are several art based pro bono legal groups online that might be able to help you with specifics.

  14. Hello Christine,
    Would it be a copyright infringement if I make purses/bags that resembles certain Marvel, DC, Disney, or anything geek related but have zero logos but you can tell what it is. I would be selling these at craft fairs only. I won’t be ironing on things, this would be a sewn from scratch type purses that just have the resemblance of characters on it. Or let’s say a the Tardis from Doctor Who. It will look like the Tardis, but a few things will be off and nothing stating Doctor Who.

    If this is still illegal, how do I obtain licensing and does it cost a lot of money?

    Thank You!!!
    Happy Days!!!

    1. Generally, if it is recognizable as a popular character – it is an infringement. But, it’s best to run specific questions past your legal team. For licensing, you’d reach out to each company for permissions.

      1. Thank you Christine…
        I don’t have a legal team to ask questions to. I am just a crafty person who wants to sell stuff at craft fairs; thus the reason for me asking questions on here.
        I’ll look into each company for licensing.
        Thank you for your advice!!!
        Happy Days!!!

  15. I own a Mall with multiple vendors. One of my vendors sells Collegiate embroidered towels and heat transfer shirts with the school logo on it. I asked her if she pays the school and she said she pays the person she bought the design from. This sounds a little sketchy. Do you know if she is doing anything wrong? What type of documentation should I ask her for? Also can I get in trouble for selling the shirt in my store even though she has her own company and she is the one who made the shirt? Thanks

    1. You’d need to ask her for the licensing information from the school with the business name she operates under in your store. Yes, if you are knowingly and willingly selling knock offs your store could be held liable.

  16. help! Is it infringement to use a Disney character with some other words on it (not claiming the credit of the character) as the logo for your online shop ?

  17. Hi Christine,

    Would I be able to use the name of Disney Princesses and associated colours for my products, without their images or any reference to Disney? For example calling a product ‘Cinderella’ and using colours such as blue,silver,white etc. but use my own branding so as to create a theme that could be interpreted as a Disney Princess?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Lauren! That’s a shade of gray, really. You couldn’t use the name Disney nor Cinderella without written permission. The definition of trademark infringement is “likelihood of confusion”. This basically means that if a customer is confusing your product with a trademark owned by someone else – they could take action against you.

  18. How would someone go about getting the license from Disney? What information is needed? And, any idea of the cost? I suppose they change according to the volume you sell.
    Thanks a lot
    Giovana

  19. I go to scrapbook/cardmaking expo shows and see either Disney scrapbook layout pages for sale or Disney diecuts to use on your own pages. The page or diecuts are their own creation. These vendors go to multiple shows and sell a lot of inventory. Can they legally sell these or do you think they buy rights? Thanks

  20. Would you please give me all the legal advice you have so I don’t have to look it up and do it myself? Is it illegal to illegally use illegal copywritten images? If I do something illegal and they find me, can I say I used your site and even though you said don’t do it I did it anyway?? ;P Obviously this is all tongue-in-cheek and it boggles my mind that folks don’t want to do the work to look up what is, or is not, legal to do for their business. Thanks for sharing the info you have, and for putting up with all of the ensuing questions! Happy New Year!

  21. I have heard 2 different things from different legal “sites” about using licensed fabric to make stuff to resale. “First Use” laws as well as some court cases where the crafter that were dismissed because of it. It can be very confusing as far as fabric goes.

  22. Hi! Can I sell hand painted Disney characters on wooden boxes on Facebook to family friends and public? On my personal Facebook profile but also on a Facebook page?

  23. I don’t understand why it is so hard for people to realize that if you can look at something they made (i.e 3 circles) that make you think of a certain mouse, you can’t sell it. No way, no how! And that goes for any other recognizable item or character.

  24. Disney has plenty of resources – and even if there is no financial gain they sometimes will send a cease and desist order – a friend of mine had decorated her classroom in a Disney theme and was asked to take it down… they protect their brand 🙂

  25. What if we drew artwork but it was based off a disney character? Say, I drew Cinderella and wanted to sell it as a vinyl sticker, can I do this?

  26. Ok so I have a question in are Luzerne county mall in Wilkes barre they use everything Disney made. They add inspired by they said it keeps them safe? Is this true! Also I want to know how we can’t use Cinderella or princess on things or other names like Mario.. these are peoples names anymore how can Disney go after anyone now with these names! Also Disney got there ears and that and copied and animal so how does that give them a copyright to it? Mouse’s where around long before Disney! They use world which is a copy of the place I live! Almost all that Disney uses was actually inspired by and copied from other names. So I’m not sure to how one can get in trouble without using an exact logo of your theme park!

    1. Hello!
      1) Inspired by doesn’t keep them safe.
      2) You can use the name Mario on something. You can’t refer to the Mario Brothers.
      3) You are welcome to craft something that looks like a mouse. You can’t copy Disney’s version of a mouse (Mickey).
      Hope this helps!

  27. Hi christine!

    first off, thank you for answering all of our questions, another one for you:

    does copyright include ‘likeness’ of a character? for example, what if I make a hand bar of soap in the silhouette of Peter Pan, using his colors but no actual facial features. or making a bar of soap in the shape of Peter pans green hat with red feather.
    also
    what about something more abstract, like using just the colors of mini mouses dress (red and white polka dots) on a basic square bar of soap and calling it something like: “Miss Mouse Soap Bar” in stead of “Mini Mouse Soap Bar”
    (would Disney come after something like that?)

    1. sorry one more thing:

      here’s a link to an etsy shop where the seller created their own rendition of the Alice and wonderland characters, if you make your own ‘parody’ of a Disney character are you able to sell it, (or if it is recognizable enough to be a Disney character it is automatically a copyright problem)

      https://www.etsy.com/listing/793145256/alice-and-wonderland-face-mask-with-two?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=Alice+in+wonderland&ref=sc_gallery-1-1&plkey=c5ed2565d69c55cd077259c6ed17c513814becb5%3A793145256&pro=1&frs=1

    2. Yes, likeness is included. It’s a best practice to stay away from any and all Disney related products. The definition of trademark infringement is ‘likelihood of confusion’. This means if a customer can confuse your product with an official product, it could be an infringment.

  28. Hi Christina!
    Thank you for taking the time to answer questions.

    So I’m curious about online resellers, such as in online thrift shops or even real-world garage sales. Is it legal for people to resell officially-licensed merchandise that they no longer use e.g. officially licensed Disney/Marvel/etc. t-shirts?

    This is assuming the product has not been altered or used in a craft and is not being sold as an altered item or altered creation.

    Thanks!

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