Steve Jobs: Apple Files to Stop Action Figure Sales, eBay Site Redirects

Apple is issuing a cease-and-desist order against two Chinese makers of Steve Jobs action figures, and minutes ago the eBay site selling them redirected to a site selling just this $39 head by seller JPS Inc. The relationship between the firms is as yet unclear. It’s the second time Apple’s had to go after companies trying to capitalize on Jobs’ visage, which it claims it owns per California statute.
Screenshot credit: Gina Smith

For the second time in 18 months, Apple is fighting to protect the visage of its late cofounder Steve Jobs — from action figure toy exploitation. In 2010, Apple claimed it owned the late Jobs’ likeness, per California Civil Code Section 3344 and managed to stop the sale of a Steve Jobs doll from MIC Gadget of Hong Kong — but not before MIC sold out of 300 of its figures on eBay. Now Apple is reportedly trying to stop the sale of a foot-tall, realistic-looking doll by Chinese makers In Icons and Dragon in Dreams, which reportedly were selling their “Super Realistic Steve Jobs Collectible figure” on eBay for $139 in a joint venture.

Not anymore.

Clicking on the eBay page where In Icons was allegedly selling the 12-inch, uncannily realistic doll now redirects to yet another eBay sale site: this one selling a $39 Steve Jobs head figure from a seller called JPS Inc. of Hong Kong. Just minutes ago that same page proclaimed the sale “ended.”

Screenshot credit: Gina Smith

The relationship between In Icons, Dragon in Dreams and the seller JPS Inc., if any, is as yet unclear. Apple and In Icons reps have not yet returned calls for comment. Dragon in Dream Corp. at this moment is not listing the “Super Realistic Steve Jobs Figure” it announced with In Icons on January 1.

In a statement to ABC news yesterday about the matter, In Icons exec Tandy Cheung said: “Apple can do anything they like … I will not stop, we already started production.” A US TV local station broke that story — watch that story from yesterday here on YouTube. [DISCLOSURE: ABC News employed this writer as a full-time on air technology correspondent for ABC’s national Good Morning America and World News Tonight with Peter Jennings shows from 1994 to 2000. — ED.]

Screenshot:Gina Smith

Is it possible JPS is now selling just the head of the In Icon doll for the $39? Speculation, purely, but notice the product — it also is ultra realistic and appears to be a screwed off head from a full-sized doll. Our reporters are digging in.

Screenshot credit: Gina Smith

Here’s a shot of the MIC figure of Jobs, the one Apple succeeded in ceasing sale of.

MIC Gadget apologized on November 23 for its action figure.

Screenshot of discontinued 2010 M.I.C.’s Steve Jobs action figure: Gina Smith
Original image:

Here’s a video depicting the Steve Jobs action figures. They do look real.

The UK Telegraph reported the below earlier this morning. Here’s an excerpt with the redirected link in question.

It come(s) complete with Jobs’s trademark blue jeans, sneakers and black turtleneck sweater, was created by Chinese company In Icons and was set for release in February. But (its) efforts have reportedly met with’ a legal challenge with Apple allegedly threatening to sue the toy maker unless it ceases trading. Online-auctioning site eBay is already selling the plastic doll at $135 each. The normal retail price would have been $99. The action figure comes with a pair of black socks, some glasses, a leather belt, two apples (one with a bite taken out of it), a bar stool and a “One More Thing” backdrop.

Maker Dragon in Dreams (DID Corp.) makes other super-realistic figurines, including Napoleanic-era and World War II soldiers, Japanese samurai, a Tiger Woods figurine (named “Leopard” Woods, presumably to avoid the same kind of legal problems) — and a figurine of US President Barack Obama.


  • What is amazing is — if you go to ebay — all these sites are redirecting and redirecting … the former site that was selling the full sized full body Steve Jobs action figure now redirects to another ebay site with another seller auctioning off just a screwed off head .. and then it said sale over. Then another popped up! Will the profiting off Jobs’ death NEVER cease?

    Disclosure: I am author of iWOZ, the Steve Wozniak autobiography, which of course is selling briskly due to the sad demise of Jobs. And I feel awful about profiting off Jobs’ death. Still, these folks are doing it on purpose. Apple says it’s illegal. I say it’s in bad taste.

  • An important point is that you authored iWOZ before anyone could have known that Steve Job’s passing would be imminently forthcoming. It is clear to all of us in the tech community who read your work and follow your columns, that you are absolutely not one to scruple so low as to try to profit from someone’s death. Now were I the one to buy your book after Job’s passing, I should be the one who feels awful. It would be shame on me. All us in the tech community are about the technology, the future and what may be before us, not about people leaving this world. Robert.

  • That is a nice comment, +Robert Bigelow. You know, I wrote iWoz with Wozniak back in 2005, back when Jobs and I were back and forthing in an aggressive way over that book’s fwd. No one knows what life has in store. That’s why ethical reporting — and ethical behavior in general — is so important. You never know what tomorrow holds. Existential bind … we all face it, i suppose. Thanks again for the support. gs

  • I don’t agree with these sentiments: I don’t think it’s in bad taste, particularly, to offer a spookily realistic Jobs doll — it could and probably should be considered a tribute. Certainly those buying the doll aren’t mocking or insulting Jobs or his memory — to the contrary, they obviously treasure it. What’s wrong with that?

    And what’s wrong with the inevitable interest people have in books and articles stimulated by a big event, like the death of an icon?

    This idea that people are “profiting from” a death or tragedy or the like is just silly; profiting is not bad; meeting needs and fulfilling wants is not bad; it would be bad if you ‘profited’ by killing the person, or degrading their memory for no good reason.

    We should all execute so beautifully that hustling idea people 8000 miles away craft weirdly perfect plastic homages to us and others around the world pay good money to get them….