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Toys Christmas Cheer The Courts Apple

Apple Forces Steve Jobs Action Figure Off eBay 233

Posted by timothy
from the hope-you-got-in-on-the-ground-floor dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Kevin Parrish writes in Tom's Guide that last month, just in time for Christmas holiday gift-giving, M.I.C. Gadget began the manufacture and sale of a Steve Jobs action figure featuring an oversized head, Steve's trademark black shirt/blue jeans outfit, and a new iPhone 4 like a magical world-saving talisman in Jobs' left hand. The action figure, selling for $79.90, came with an Apple logo stand and cartoon balloons for writing custom messages. Soon a warning letter from Apple stated that the figurine violated a California statute prohibiting the use of a person's likeness in a product without prior authorization and sales ceased. But shortly after production stopped, the figurines began to appear on eBay selling for up to $2,500. Now Apple's lawyers have raided the online marketplace, zeroing in on one Canadian eBay seller who had already sold the figurine for $1,125 and eBay has removed other listings, telling sellers that the object for sale 'violates a celebrity's right of publicity.'"
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Apple Forces Steve Jobs Action Figure Off eBay

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  • Just damn! (Score:5, Funny)

    by reboot246 (623534) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @08:35PM (#34667778) Homepage
    And I was going to buy one to stick pins in!
  • icon (Score:5, Funny)

    by StripedCow (776465) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @08:47PM (#34667830)

    Perhaps we can still use it here on Slashdot, as the icon for Apple stories.

    • This is Slashdot.
      Only company we are allowed to indiscriminately hate and make fun of is Microsoft. Sorry... Micro$oft.

      Other corporate entities are free game from time to time - but never Apple.
      Also, badmouthing Linux, penguins in general and in some cases Natalie Portman will almost certainly get you in serious trouble.

      • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @10:53PM (#34668264)

        This is Slashdot.
        Only company we are allowed to indiscriminately hate and make fun of is Microsoft. Sorry... Micro$oft.

        Other corporate entities are free game from time to time - but never Apple.
        Also, badmouthing Linux, penguins in general and in some cases Natalie Portman will almost certainly get you in serious trouble.

        Where have you been? Apple is in the dog house, all the cool kids are turning a blind eye to Google's bullshit now.

        • The GEEK cool kids.

          Apple is no longer geek-cool 'cause the joe random cool kids now think it's cool.

          • Apple started to lose much of it's geek appeal when they turned from a computer company into a consumer electronics company, and embraced DRM and very restricted products in order to achieve this. That is the point when the geeks started to see them as turning to the dark side. It also made Apple a lot of money.
            • I prefer to say they lost its geek appeal when they turned from the elitist geek market to the more profitable elitist idiot market.

        • by Dogtanian (588974)

          Where have you been? Apple is in the dog house, all the cool kids are turning a blind eye to Google's bullshit now.

          Actually, though it's definitely true that a few years back Google was viewed almost entirely positively and the recipient of widespread uncritical fanboyism on Slashdot (circa 2000 to 2005 or thereabouts), I've noticed that this trend has declined significantly in the past few years.

  • Normal and good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @08:50PM (#34667836)

    Some of the comments on TFA are completely off the deep end, and I (foolishly) hope we don't end up with the same.

    This a good thing. Personality rights like this evolve from the protection of privacy, and imply each individual's right to control their usage by the media. Usually those in elected positions forgo such rights, but for the rest of us it's nice to know that we can try to control some of the usage of ourselves as a commodity. In reality, this right translates almost only to celebrities, which unfairly causes a lot of the vilification of the laws; the fact of the matter is that only celebrities (by definition, perhaps) have their personality commoditized. A celebrity is a business, and just like a business they have the right to control the marketing of their brand.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25, 2010 @08:57PM (#34667874)

      Completely on target. As a Sarah Palin supporter, I'm really looking forward to when strong protections against character use like this become the norm. Celebrities like Sarah need to be able to control when their image is used and what is said about them. Think about how much better our political process would be if presidential candidates could expunge anything negative said about them or any negative use of their image. We would have never had to find out that Sarah doesn't know what newspapers she reads. And the world would be a better place. There are going to be whiners who say that it limits speech but who cares.

      • Re:Normal and good (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jonbryce (703250) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @09:19PM (#34667952) Homepage

        There is a difference between news articles about what she does which are covered by 1st amendment rights, and using Sarah Palin's image to sell products without her permission.

        • by hedwards (940851)
          The 1st amendment protections for the press are, in my view, overly generous. A lot of that personal information that the press loves to report on isn't any of our business. It's one thing when they report on things which are sort of grey area such as when politicians have affairs, and quite another when they report on other celebrities engaging in that same behavior.

          And the only reason why it is our business with politicians is that they frequently run for office on the suggestion that they represent us
        • Why? In both cases money changes hands. The reporter is "selling" his article. The paper is using her fame and taking photos to get readers... It's always about the money.

        • There is a difference between news articles about what she does which are covered by 1st amendment rights, and using Sarah Palin's image to sell products without her permission.

          Is there? News articles don't write and publish themselves, that all needs to be paid for. Here on the internet it's long been considered commercial usage by the likes of ICANN and the MAFIAA for a website to run advertisements even if it is just to support the cost of operating the website.

        • by CAIMLAS (41445)

          Sell products without permission? You mean like what newspapers do, when they sell ad space next to someone's picture? Or how about the papers they sell to subscribers, with said faces?

      • Re:Normal and good (Score:4, Insightful)

        by davev2.0 (1873518) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @09:30PM (#34667992)
        Sorry, but you fail by conflating two different situations; your comment is not even close to insightful and an example of a false dichotomy.

        There is a major difference between a news report containing factual information and a picture of a person and a someone making a doll of celebrity for the sole purpose of making money of the celebrity's image.

        The choice is not between total control of one's image and/or likeness and no control at all.

        Please explain why someone should be able to make money off the likeness of another person without said second person's knowledge and/or permission. Also, if someone were to make and sell a doll of you without your permission and without sharing any of the profits, would you try to stop them?
        • Re:Normal and good (Score:5, Insightful)

          by happymellon (927696) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @10:34PM (#34668212)

          Since you seem to be still trolling, can you give us a reason why someone should be able to have absolute control over their likeness?
          Are you saying that satire should be illegal, or impersonation artists? Down with SNL! Elvis impersonators are evil!

          You do not have absolute control over your likeness, and never had.

        • by CAIMLAS (41445)

          Please explain why someone should be able to make money off the likeness of another person without said second person's knowledge and/or permission.

          That's not what's happening here, though.

          What I see is a bobblehead doll - a parody, even. I'm pretty sure that'd fall under 'artistic license'.

      • As I said above these things tend to go out the window when it comes to political candidates. There's a reason it's called a "public office."

      • Completely on target. As a Sarah Palin supporter...

        Clearly a troll.

      • This should be modded (un)funny but its insightful. Who is really that dense?

    • This a good thing. Personality rights like this evolve from the protection of privacy, and imply each individual's right to control their usage by the media.

      Not more imaginary property. What is a person's usage, can it be owned, and what are the costs of simulating ownership of this conceptual thing? Every form of imaginary property infringes on physical property rights.

      • Well, every form of property infringes on some "freedom" or "right." The alternative is anarchy. Jefferson can spit all he wants, but Government and laws by definition swap some liberties for security, so if you want to live in a civil society you have to sacrifice some so-called "rights." What rights a people are guaranteed is dictated by a lot of things, such as who has the guns and what their governing documents are. The Native Americans learned the former the hard way (along with the rest of Jared D

        • by hedwards (940851)

          Why should your desire to profit off my visage impede my right to privacy? If the concept is confusing, we're lucky to have a common-law system so our system evolves with our society.

          He's not a private citizen he's the CEO of a well known company. If he sued over privacy rights for things he does in public he might get as much as $1 as an award assuming he won.

          I see no evidence that the dolls were made using information that wasn't publicly available to damn near everybody. And considering that he goes out to publicly announce new products dressed like that, I really don't think he has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

          But ultimately I would like them to win this just because I

    • Nonsense. An arguably powerful man who doesn't know a clever parody of himself is a fool. If Jobs were truly a clever man he'd have recognized a clever marketing gimmick and made some kind of deal with this Chinese company for these figures and made a mint; both Apple and the Chinese firm could have made a fortune selling an iPad collector's edition complete with Jobs figure. The figures themselves are hardly embarrassing, they're just slightly out of proportion, other than that they are quite lifelike and
      • The problem is that they skipped the critical step of asking first permission from Apple and Jobs. We don't know if Apple is already in negotiations with another company to launch a similar product.

        Considering the huge ammounts of bootleged and pirate products coming from China, the real news are that the chinese company listened to Apple compliants.

        That said, I must recognize that the guys at MIC Gadget did a fine job.

        • I'm not so sure that asking permission is always necessary. In this case Apple appears to have resorted to a quirk in California law to force the litigation. Without it there may gave been nothing Apple could have done. Comedians are protected from slander suits, why not products? It would truly be a marvelous country if everyone with a stick up his ass sued anyone who said anything about them. Er...
      • by mean pun (717227)
        So if you slap on the 'parody' label everything is allowed? Someone copies Ubuntu, calls it Cowbuntu, prints a box with Linus Torvalds and Mark Shuttleworth as cows on it, and sells it for a low, low, 699$. And of course no sources. "It was just a parody, your honor. Not providing the sources is part of that. It mocks the crypto-socialist tendencies of the open-source community."
        • "So if you slap on the 'parody' label everything is allowed?"

          In every post some idiot does this. Why? Its not like you can cover your tracks, my post is still available for all to see... You have obviously omitted the "clever" part to make your post needlessly relevant and contrary. The product has to be a CLEVER parody. If you want to argue with me then argue, but don't resort to immature trickery.

    • by ZDRuX (1010435)
      I'm sorry, what exactly are these "personality rights" that you speak of? This is the first time I've heard of these, unless you meant to say privacy rights? I'm not sure, perhaps you can clarify. And these rights "imply" that I have the right to control my "usage" by the media?.. Can you define "usage" in this context? Man, am I the only one who's totally confused by the wording in this post?

      And then you go on to say that these apparently existent personality laws "translate" only to celebrities? First
  • by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @08:59PM (#34667880)

    I think they did a good job capturing his essence. http://imgur.com/hMuXQ.jpg [imgur.com]

  • by noidentity (188756) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @09:07PM (#34667910)

    [...] featuring an oversized head, Steve's trademark black shirt/blue jeans outfit, and a new iPhone 4 like a magical world-saving talisman in Jobs' left hand. The action figure, selling for $79.90, came with an Apple logo stand [...]

    I'd have thought that it was the stand that was violating trademark law, not the outfit.

    • I'd have thought that it was the stand that was violating trademark law, not the outfit.

      I'd have thought you were right, and I assumed they used the term colloquially. Perhaps an editor could have picked that one up...

  • by eclectro (227083) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @09:23PM (#34667968)

    "Thou shalt not make any graven images of me."

    • Too bad they didn't arrive at "thou shalt not steal" yet.

      • Too bad they didn't arrive at "thou shalt not steal" yet.

        It's not stealing if you convince people to willingly give you their money. Hypnosis, maybe.

  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @09:59PM (#34668106)
    We're entitled to free speech, but increasingly the world is under the control of companies we can't function without.

    Recently we saw Visa, Mastercard, Paypal and an opportunistic Swiss bank all take advantage of Wikileaks plight to either seize their funds and/or stop them receiving any more funds.

    Now here's eBay stopping people from engaging in perfectly legitimate trade. Satire is Free speech, you know. But who has the money to appeal this all the way to the Supreme Court. Only the very wealthy can afford justice.

    With the big end of town merging and competition shrinking I can see the day where you just have a few players (as happened with credit cards) where you can be turned into an unperson just because a handful of big companies decide they don't want to do business with you.

    Don't expect Congress to defend your rights. As we saw in with their Copyright Extension Act (the "Mikey Mouse Act") they always rush to codify the wishes of their biggest donors. Don't expect the courts either. The Supreme Court decided recently that companies can pour as much cash as they like into election campaigns. Roberts & co. aren't going to defend our rights.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by shadowbearer (554144)

      This has nothing to do with free speech.

      It has everything to do lazy, greedy stupidity. Some idiots at a company figuring they can get rich from selling a cheap plastic replication of Jobs (I don't know what drugs they were on when they dreamed it up, and I don't want to know) and then part of Apple's legal division - apparently with nothing better to do - figuring they might make some money in suing said idiots into the ground and, just possibly, buying the dead company in the future; in order to

    • by hedwards (940851) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @11:01PM (#34668290)
      The problem is that they've made a likeness which doesn't appear to differ from the original enough to qualify as satire, it uses his name and the Apple logo.

      That last bit is probably what's going to cause most of the problem. The rest of it isn't as cut and dry as that is.
      • by Belial6 (794905)
        Yes, they could have avoided all of this by including a removable wizards hat and voice bubble that says "I don my mighty wizards cap and cast Reality Distortion Field level 14!"

        That would have put it firmly identified it as satire, and once out of the box, the hat could be left off leaving the doll exactly the same, minus the threat of lawsuit.
      • Really? I'd say the humorously oversized head (get it - he's got a big head / over inflated ego) makes it satire. Or just the fact that, even among faithful zealots of the Church of Apple, I've never come across someone who actually liked Steve Jobs.
    • Now here's eBay stopping people from engaging in perfectly legitimate trade.

      As a preliminary matter, satire is an affirmative defense - in other words, if you're going to claim that your infringement is protected as satire, you have to first admit that yes, you just infringed a trademark or a right of publicity. Which means that while it may be protected, it is not "perfectly legitimate". But that's mere semantics.

      Satire is Free speech, you know.

      That said, where's the satire? "Steve Jobs wears jeans and turtlenecks!" Not really much of a satirical point.

      In order to be a legally protected parody, you have to ac

    • where you can be turned into an unperson just because a handful of big companies decide they don't want to do business with you.

      I remember an episode of the old Max Headroom series, where Edison Carter has been falsely accused of credit fraud by a rogue AI, and Jeffrey Tambor's character says, "That's worse than murder!"

      That show had a habit of being prophetic (which is nothing more than an extrapolation of existing trends), but it was interesting because many of those trends weren't so obvious a quarter-century ago.

  • by CliffH (64518)
    I think it looks like a slightly younger David Letterman. :)
  • IMHO it's actually about the way he's holding the phone.

  • IF this is classified or promoted as a parody, could it gain the protection most parody works receive?
  • he is a crook, yet, even he doesnt attempt to prevent anyone from selling figures or anything with huge bobble head action figures ?

    what does this tell for steve jobs' character ?
  • People have the right to parody. Even if it makes them money. I can't see how this would stand up in court.

  • Slobodan Milosevic was walking down the bridge when the huge wind strikes. He falls into river and starts drowning, and three man notice that and rescue him. Milosevic, grateful for saving their lives, ask them anything that they would like to have:

    Guy #1 : "Mr president, I would like 1.000.000 dinars so I can feed my family, pay our debts and buy stuff that my family needs"

    Milosevic: "Ok, that is fine, you can solve financial problem of your family for the rest of your life with that amount"

    Guy #2 : "Mr pr

  • ... the Julian Assange action figure.

  • That is what killed it.

  • So a California statue is now international law?

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