updated 11:17 pm EST, Tue January 29, 2013
$200 figure will likely never make it to market
Following in the footsteps of others that have attempted to market a Steve Jobs action figure, a Japanese company called Legend Toys has made another eerily realistic doll based on Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' iconic look and is taking pre-orders for the $200, 12-inch figurine. As with previous attempts, the company will likely be served with a cease-and-desist order both from Jobs' family as well as Apple itself, which has previously claimed that it owns at least some of the rights to Jobs' likeness.
Chinese site and accessory seller M.I.C. Gadget was among the first to offer a "memorial" figurine of the former CEO only two months after the iconic Jobs died of complications from pancreatic cancer. The statue was done with an enlarged head in the classic "caricature" or "bobble head" style, and a handful were sold at prices up to $2,500 before Apple forced Ebay to close sales.
A year later, a Hong Kong company called InIcons produced a $100 Steve Jobs doll that the newest version is clearly copied from (indeed, the new company may have the same people behind it as InIcons). The doll, though praised for its strong likeness and attention to detail, was halted before production models could come to market, with buyers losing their pre-order deposits. Apple claimed in legal filings that it owned the rights to some of Jobs' likeness (those in which he appears in his Apple "uniform"), and the fact that the original packaging of the doll came in a mockup-box resembling Jobs' biography didn't help the company's legal standing.
The company does not automatically shut down all projects dealing with Jobs' likeness, however. Several statues of Jobs have been erected and other tributes published around the world, and none so far have received any objection from either Apple or Jobs' family. The key component to avoiding legal action seems to be to use Jobs' likeness only in tribute and with no profit motive, which suggests this latest effort at selling a doll based on Jobs is also doomed to fail.
Legend Toys has again made the error of announcing a pre-order on the action figures, giving Apple's legal team time to halt the proceedings. It remains to be seen how the Japanese courts will handle the matter, should it go that far.