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China Toys Apple Idle Technology

Apple Threatens Steve Jobs Doll Maker With Lawsuit 314

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-doll-for-you dept.
redletterdave writes "Apple has allegedly threatened to sue Chinese company 'In Icons' over its eerily realistic 12-inch action figure of Steve Jobs, the company's late founder and CEO. The 1:6 scale model, which was said to be distributed by DiD Corp. in late February, comes with the clothes and accessories popularized by Jobs, such as the black faux turtleneck, blue jeans and sneakers. The figurine is packaged in a box that looks like Walter Isaacson's 'Steve Jobs' biography cover, and also comes with a 'One More Thing...' backdrop, as well as two red apples, including one with a bite in it. To make it extra creepy, the doll's realistic head sculpt features Jobs' famous unblinking stare. Apple reportedly wrote 'In Icons', telling the Chinese manufacturer that any toy that resembles Apple's logo or products, or Job's name or appearance, is a 'criminal offense.' Attorneys believe a Steve Jobs action figure released after his death violates the 'right of publicity,' which is a state law that protects one's image, voice, photograph, identity or signature from being used commercially without consent. Furthermore, California's Celebrity Rights Act in 1985 protects a celebrity's personality rights up to 70 years after their death."
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Apple Threatens Steve Jobs Doll Maker With Lawsuit

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  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy.tpno-co@org> on Thursday January 05, 2012 @10:20PM (#38606220) Homepage

    That's a bit strange, no? You'd think Job's family would be the one filing, not Apple, unless they own his personality rights. Which would be kinda creepy, if you think about it.

  • Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 05, 2012 @10:26PM (#38606258)

    The one thing Apple is better at than designing closed computers is suing people.

  • by renegadesx (977007) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @10:26PM (#38606266)
    So what law are they violating? I am talking about China not the US. A Chinese company does not have to answer squat to Apple nor the US legal system. They could make a doll with a penis on the head of Obama and the US Government couldn't touch them. Selling these dolls in the US is another matter (the Steve Jobs ones), but those that want them could simply import directly from China.
  • California (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fnord666 (889225) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @10:28PM (#38606274) Journal

    While Apple's copyright infringement claims are questionable, attorneys believe a Steve Jobs action figure released after his death violates the "right of publicity," which is a state law that protects one's image, voice, photograph, identity or signature from being used commercially without consent. Furthermore, California's Celebrity Rights Act in 1985 protects a celebrity's personality rights up to 70 years after their death.

    I don't see where California law is in any way binding or enforceable for a product unless they tried to sell it in California. Just because it is illegal to carry an ice cream cone in your back pocket in Alabama doesn't mean I can't do it in Michigan.

  • Why would they sue, do they have the rights on the likeness? I thought that would apply only to living persons.

    I know that not reading the article is par for the course, but not reading the summary?

    Furthermore, California's Celebrity Rights Act in 1985 protects a celebrity's personality rights up to 70 years after their death.

  • So what law are they violating?
    ... Selling these dolls in the US is another matter (the Steve Jobs ones), but those that want them could simply import directly from China.

    It's likely they're selling or offering the dolls for sale in California, at least via a website. That counts as sufficient contact to place them under California law for those transactions.

  • Re:California (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SecurityGuy (217807) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @10:36PM (#38606320)

    I know people really use this legal theory, but it's utter nonsense. When you do something on a US web site, do you bother with whether it complies with Chinese law? Cuban? Afghani? Should you? Of course not. The mere fact of plugging a network cable into something should not make it subject to the laws of every jurisdiction on the planet.

  • by siddesu (698447) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @10:39PM (#38606334)

    The summary doesn't say anything about why Apple is doing this, and neither is TFA from my cursory read through. As far as I understand the matter, it is a family affair, and it is really weird and highly unusual that they would not hire a law firm to sue, but have Apple do it instead.

    The criminal threats are also mildly surprising, and the way Apple is clinging to Jobs is indeed sort of sick. As are the people who might want to buy a figure like this one.

  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @11:18PM (#38606596)

    As are the people who might want to buy a figure like this one.

    Personally, I have no interest in anything that creepy, but given that Apple is being such a legal dick about this (and many other things recently) I'd buy one on principle.
    BR And then I'd stash it away, unopened, until I retire and then I'd put it on E-Bay.

  • by similar_name (1164087) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @11:28PM (#38606642)

    What the doll maker ought to do is claim satire. Partly because that's their only Out,

    Assuming it's only state law and assuming it doesn't violate any Chinese laws then they can just not sell them in California. On top of that, if there is a distributor different than the manufacturer then why should a manufacturer in China care about a lawsuit brought under California law? The distributor would be the only ones legally responsible for breaking California's laws.

  • by rtb61 (674572) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @11:38PM (#38606686) Homepage

    Which is rather pointless as it is a state law not a federal law, in both cases it is state not federal law. Basically the manufacturers can tell Apple to go get knotted and leave Apple to pursue retailers in the affected US states. US federal laws don't apply in China and obviously US state laws are complete and utterly meaningless, as of course US states can not enter into treaties with other countries to enforce laws across international boundaries. So manufacturer and sell and deliver my mail order in the affected states, in the rest of the world, thumb their noses at Apple Inc. Besides "Think Different" Einstein billboards for Apple. So maybe Apple can complain if the dolls are blue and sport IBM logos, otherwise their history of theft pretty much leaves them in the cold.

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @11:47PM (#38606720) Journal

    They're using CA's law that says Jobs' estate owns his image for 75 years after death, the problem is, how do they enforce CA law if the dolls never leave China?

    How do they enforce California law if the seller never ships to California?
    It's not unusual for online vendors to say "For legal reasons we don't ship to these states: X, Y, Z"

  • by Jeremi (14640) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @11:58PM (#38606764) Homepage

    How on earth does this get to be a criminal offense rather than civil one?

    It probably doesn't, but lawyers are paid to write scary cease and desist letters, not accurate ones.

  • by CarboRobo (1932000) on Friday January 06, 2012 @12:08AM (#38606800)
    "Criminal"? Are you sure about that, Apple? And could I point out, for your idiot lawyers, that Californian and American laws don't meany anything in other countries i.e. China...
  • I believe they actually acquired the respective rights to all the photos.

    Apple obtained permission from the photographer to use a copyrighted image, not permission from Gandhi's family to use his likeness to sell a product that he most likely would have been opposed to.

    Hypocrisy. Again.

  • Re:California (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SEE (7681) on Friday January 06, 2012 @03:32AM (#38607594) Homepage

    It's not illegal in Canada

    Actually, this is a very important point you got wrong. It is, in fact, illegal in Canada; the Canadian law is merely not enforced.

    The US-Canada extradition treaty specifies that the US can only demand extradition in cases where the act was, by Canadian law, punishable by a prison sentence exceeding 1 year. Emery could only be extradited because Canada left that law on its books, even though it didn't actually enforce it.

    The Parliament of Canada could have, at any time, shut down the extradition effort by simply repealing the law in question, or reducing the maximum sentence to less than a year, or the like. And despite the Conservative government, the House of Commons of Canada had a Liberal-NDP-BQ majority during most of the extradition effort.

    So Mr. Emery is in jail because the freely-elected representatives of the Canadian commons, of all parties, jointly exercised the sovereign power of the Queen-in-Parliament to outlaw his conduct under Canadian law and keep it illegal under Canadian law.

  • by Zemran (3101) on Friday January 06, 2012 @04:04AM (#38607722) Homepage Journal

    You need to let people know when you are being sarcastic as many are too dumb to realise...

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