Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Unauthorized Steve Jobs Action Figure Is No More

The battle over an unauthorized, uncannily lifelike action figure of late Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been won — by Apple!
On Sunday, Hong Kong-based company In Icons sent out an email announcement to customers explaining that while it still believed it had all legal grounds to make and sell its unsanctioned replica of Jobs, it was voluntarily ceasing production and distribution out of respect for the Jobs family and Apple, both of which had threatened the company with legal action.
As the announcement — written in first person, apparently by In Icons CEO Tandy Cheung — reads:
Though we still believe that we have not overstepped any legal boundaries, we have decided to completely stop the offer, production and sale of the Steve Jobs figurine out of our heartfelt sensitivity to the feelings of the Jobs family.
That’s a markedly different tone than Cheung struck in an interview with ABC News on January 4, when the legal threat from Apple was only rumored. At that time, Cheung shrugged off any action on Apple’s part, confidently asserting that Apple did not have trademark over Jobs’ name or image, and further revealing that In Icons had already started production of the figure.
Indeed, a quick search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s public database of trademarked names, for people living and dead, turns up nothing for “Steve Jobs.”
Still, whatever was said by Apple’s infamously low-tolerance lawyers and the legal team representing Jobs’ estate, it was clearly enough to spook Cheung and company from moving forward with their plans to memorialize Jobs and cash-in at the same time. The first batch of Jobs figures was reportedly sold out, according to In Icons, and due to ship in February.
Now the question remains whether customers who had pre-ordered the Jobs action figure for $99.99 U.S. (plus shipping) will be refunded, when, and if so, how much.
In Icons said in its announcement that “we will aim to have full refund to the fans who have pre- ordered,” but the use of the word “aim” would seem to indicate some ambiguity over the company’s ability to provide that. We’ve reached out to In Icons for more information on this and the rest of their dealings with Apple and will update when we hear back.


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