When Chinese toy company In Icon announced last week the February release of a 12-inch highly-detailed Steve Jobs doll, Apple was quick to threaten legal action. However, according to paidContent’s Jeff Roberts, likeness rights only apply to living people in 38 U.S. states, giving In Icon the ability to sell its toy in most of the country.
California is among those that recognize likeness rights after death, so Mr. Jobs’ home state will likely be off-limits. Mr. Roberts noted that Indiana offers the strongest post-mortem protection, with a century of restriction of commercial use of someone’s image without consent. Germany and Argentina are among the countries that have similar laws on the books, so In Icon will likely run into some trouble overseas too.
Mr. Roberts noted that a five-year-old case in New York state set one of the precedents in this legal area: it was ruled that no one had the exclusive rights to Marilyn Monroe’s image in New York, and efforts to change the law failed. He also cited a scholarly article that suggested the Steve Jobs doll will be verboten in these states: Indiana, Illinois, Texas, Connecticut, Georgia, Florida, California, Ohio, Virginia, Washington, New Jersey, Nevada, Nebraska, Kentucky, Tennessee and Oklahoma.