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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3653
Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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I am planning to import children's toys from Poland to the

Resolved Question:

I am planning to import children's toys from Poland to the UK.
Some of them look like famous cartoon characters (i.e. spider-man children's soft chair).
Do they all need to be licensed in order to sell them in the UK market (some of the characters looks similar but not exactly the same as original characters i.e. dog that looks like scooby doo or hello kitty looking cat)?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Alex J. : Hi
Alex J. : thank you for your question and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I will assist you.
Alex J. : Does the manufacturer of these toys have a licence to produce them or have they just copied the likeness of spider man scooby do etc?
Alex J. : Ps I am online periodically over the weekend so please do not be concerned if I do not respond right away.
Customer:

Hi.
As far as I know my supplier doesn't have the license, but his products are not exactly same as cartoon characters and are not marked or named as those characters.

Customer:

I send You a link to the manufacturers product pictures : http://www.smyk.go3.pl/galeria.php?id=bieguny

Customer:

Some of the characters I've mentioned (like spider-man) are not there so You would not be able to see the pictures.

Alex J. :

Hi, Thank you. I have received this. I will have a look at the pictures. I am away from my computer but will be back at 5pm. Kind regards AJ

Customer:

Apart from that what I have previously mentioned I have contacted eBay and Amazon and their customer service representatives claim that I do not need to any license to sell cartoon character toys on their marketplaces.

Alex J. :

Hi, Thank you. You do not need a license from eBay or amazon on the sense that they are not a licensing authority for copyright.

Alex J. :

When it comes to copyright (which is what these items might be protected by) there is no formal registration or licensing authority.

Alex J. :

It is the prerogative of the copy right owner to protect their copyright.

Alex J. :

The problem you have is, by importing something that you know is potentially a copy of someone elses intellectual property you could be committing secondary infringement under S.22 of the Copyright Designs and Patent Act 1988.

Alex J. :

This is potentially a criminal offence.

Alex J. :

Do you know whether your supplier has permission to produce these goods?

Customer:

As far as I know my supplier has no copyrights for the products that he sells but as I've previously mentioned most of the items are not identical as famous cartoon characters

Customer:

Please see it yourself on the website I've sent You.

Customer:

apart form sipierman because this is an obvious case of the character created by someone and it doesn't exists in nature like lets say scooby doo that is just a normal dog

Customer:

I've seen many items on sale on all marketplaces that don't look like the originals but are very similar and they sell in large quantities for pennies and I would not think that they are all licensed

Alex J. :

Hi, Thank you. I have looked at the pictures. There is no doubt in my mind that I would associate these with pre existing characters from say Disney.

Alex J. :

Objectively you would have to say these do look like copied characters.

Alex J. :

I would only say in my opinion both objectively and legally, if you sell these you run the risk of receiving a cease and desist letter and possibly being injected to account for profits made and delivery up of the goods purchased.

Alex J. :

Further more you risk criminal liability for secondary infringement.

Customer:

is this my responsibility to check if the toys are licensed or is this my suppliers responsibility?

Alex J. :

I am sorry to deliver bad news, but these toys are so recognisable there is a considerable risk in selling them when they have not been produced under licence from the copyright owner concerned.

Alex J. :

Yes under S.22 of the CDPA 1988 you would have a responsibility as you are importing them and selling.

Alex J. :

You may just receiving a letter telling you to stop. But this is the risk you run.

Customer:

Can I license this products myself somehow?

Alex J. :

If you are going to do this, I would be careful about how much stock you purchase up front.

Alex J. :

You would either need to go to an authorised supplier from Disney or write to Disney yourself and ask for a license.

Alex J. :

I look forward to hearing from you.

Customer:

thank you

Alex J. :

No problem. If you have any further question I am happy to assist. Kind regards AJ

Customer:

well I've got a few more questions

Alex J. :

No problem

Customer:

but I don't know If You would consider them as the same subject

Customer:

I would like to ask what kind of certifications those toys need to be legal to sell in the UK?

Alex J. :

Hi, Thanks. This is not so much my area. I can point you in the right direction of where to officially obtain this information, but I cannot profess to have to huge amounts of experience in this area.

Alex J. :

If you contact the HSE

Alex J. :

http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/uk-law-design-supply-products.htm

Alex J. :

This will be a great starting point.

Alex J. :

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-toy-safety

Alex J. :

I am happy to assist if I can. In the mean time any feedback is gratefully received.

Customer:

what institution gives licenses for selling products?

Customer:

do I need to contact Disney directly or is there any other institution in the UK I should go to

Alex J. :

Hi, Thank you. if you want a license to sell a copyright product. You need to contact the copyright owner.

Alex J. :

That would be Disney in this circumstance

Alex J. :

Kind regards AJ

Customer:

ok thank Yolu

Customer:

Best Regards ***** ***** a nice evening.

Alex J. :

No problem. I will switch to Q and A mode. If you have any follow up points in the next few days please let me know.

Alex J. :

I would be most grateful for any feedback in the mean time.

Alex J. :

Kind regards AJ

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi.

On the toy and hobby association website I found that even

"Small deviations from the original material may invalidate a copyright infringement."

so please tell me how hard would it be to prove that the toys are similar enough for the copyright holder to make a claim?

Thank you.

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
The small deviations must qualitative. If they are deviations that make it obvious that the to items are no longer the same original material then this may mean the item concerned no longer falls foul of some ones copyright.
For someone like Disney in my opinion it would be quite easy for them to prove that the toys are obviously similar. Ultimately it would be for a Judge to decide but there is a significant risk there.
Kind regards
AJ
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