Turns out that it looks like in most states, Apple can’t really do squat to prevent the sale of DiD Corp’s Steve Jobs doll? As it turns out, even if Apple did own Steve Jobs’s likeness, that would only be valid in most states while Jobs was alive. Now that he’s dead, though, almost anyone can profit off of his likeness.
Paid Content explains:
Apple’s legal claim is largely bogus. While people can indeed own rights to their likeness, those rights usually apply only to living people. Unlike other forms of intellectual property like patents or copyrights, image rights do not survive beyond the grave in most places.
Under American law, so-called “personality rights” exist only at the state level—there is no federal law. And only about a dozen states recognize image rights after death. Oddly, it is Indiana that has the strongest protection, restricting commercial use of a person’s image for 100 years after their passing.
But in New York and most other places, there is no protection at all. This was confirmed five years when a court in the state found that no one had the exclusive right to market Marilyn Monroe. Efforts to change the law have so far failed.
What this means is that Apple’s warning about the doll is an empty threat in most places. It may not even be able to stop others from using the name Steve Jobs as, surprisingly, the term does not appear on the company’s long list of registered trademarks. A company spokesperson did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
So no reason to pay gigantic mark-ups for one of these figures on eBay. Apple’s unlikely to be able to stop DiDCorp, and you’ll be able to get one come February for just $99, unless you live in one of these states: Indiana, Illinois, Texas, Connecticut, Georgia, Florida, California, Ohio, Virginia, Washington, New Jersey, Nevada, Nebraska, Kentucky, Tennessee and Oklahoma.