Apple fanatics can still buy that Steve Jobs doll if they have the fortune of living in a state that lacks image rights.
The Steve Jobs doll being made by Chinese toy company In Icons was threatened by legal action from Apple yesterday. They claimed to own the rights to Jobs’ likeness and all Apple related logos.
A recent analysis of the situation, however, shows that Apple is mostly bluffing with the issue. The doll would be allowed in the majority of states in the U.S. The likeness of Steve Jobs falls under “personality rights” under American law and is decided on the state level. In most cases, image rights do not survive beyond the death of the person in question.
16 states have laws on the books that prohibit the sale of a person’s image after death. Indiana has the strongest law in place that restricts commercial use of a person’s image 100 years after their death.
Some countries, like Argentina and Germany, also have laws prohibiting the use of a person’s image after death.
To make matters worse for the company, Apple doesn’t actually own the trademark to Steve Jobs’ name as their list of trademarks is devoid of any mention of his name.
It’s very likely, however, that Apple will fix this small oversight by trademarking Jobs’ name and likeness to slap onto everything from t-shirts to coffee mugs. It’s already been proven that there is a market for products featuring the man’s face.
For those who really want the Steve Jobs doll, the doll would only be illegal in these states: California, Connecticut, Indiana, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Virginia, New Jersey, Nevada, Nebraska, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, New Jersey and Texas. Expect to see the doll in some run-down novelty store in Brooklyn by March.