You may have caught our report the other day on how Chinese company In Icons was gearing up for the release of its 12-inch tall Steve Jobs action figure some time next February.
With Apple and Jobs notoriously swift in preventing any form of unauthorized infringement, we suggested InIcons may have a few legal issues once the fruit company caught wind of the dolls, which are anticipated to retail for a cool hundred bucks apiece. After all, the Apple did block sales of a similar doll back in 2010.
As per British newspaper The Telegraph, In Icons have rather predictably received a letter from Apple’s ever-present legal team, in which the iDevice maker threatens swift action should the figurine ever see the light of day. In spite of trying to appeal to Apple’s sentimental side by dubbing the doll a dedication "to the Genius, Great Inventor and Visionary”, In Icons haven’t manage to avoid the wrath of the company he co-founded. The letter apparently warns In Icons: "any toy that resembles the technology company’s logo, person’s name, appearance or likeness of its products is a criminal offence," but we don’t as yet know what In Icons plans to do in response to the threat.
Interestingly, PaidContent has thrown up a rather different take on Apple’s "criminal offence" claims. Apparently, such threats are largely unfounded, and whilst image rights to one’s likeness can be owned, they don’t tend to apply to those who’ve passed away.
You would have thought – with a legal team camped in the courts most days squabbling with Samsung and Google over intellectual property – Apple would be aware of how the law works. Apparently not, since the there is actually no federal law on so-called “personality rights” and only a handful of states in fact do protect image rights for the deceased.
Indiana for example, maintains image rights to dead folk for 100 years, but most other states don’t make such provisions, and previous efforts to instill some kind of law have tended to slam into a brick wall.
Ultimately, Apple may be powerless to stop In Icons from selling the doll in most places – nor from using the name ‘Steve Jobs’ since – get this – it’s not been patented.
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