Not surprisingly, less than a week after Chinese toymaker In Icons began promoting a Steve Jobs action figure, Apple is threatening a lawsuit, claiming the Cupertino, Calif. company owns Jobs' likeness.
"Apple reportedly stipulates in a letter to the Chinese manufacturer that any toy that resembles the technology company's logo, person's name, appearance or likeness of its products is a criminal offence," according to The Telegraph (UK.)
We were thinking about this, and unless Jobs signed away his likeness to Apple in some Faustian pact, his family and heirs own the rights to his likeness -- and VentureBeat seems to agree. Previously when Apple famously put the kibosh on MiC Gadget's Steve Jobs figurine in 2010, Jobs was still alive and likely objecting to the use of his likeness. Now after his death, we're not sure if Apple owns Jobs' likeness. However, it does own the Apple logo and may have a case for the "One More Thing" backdrop -- if they ever trademarked the phrase, that is.
That said, the prototype in publicity photos is strikingly well-made, with a black mock turtleneck, jeans, glasses wedding ring and removable hands so Jobs can point. It also comes with two apples, one with a bite out of it. (It also has New Balance sneakers, and that company could probably sue In Icons, too.)
Perhaps if the toymaker had asked Jobs' family nicely (and gave it some part of the profits,) his family might have agreed to the action figure. Now we'll see if anyone will actually receive one of the dolls before Apple can halt In Icons' production.