eBay Yanks $2,500 Steve Jobs Action Figure After Apple Complaint

If you were hoping to get your hands on one of the few Steve Jobs action figures to make it out of China, you’re too late. After Apple successfully stopped manufacturer M.I.C. Gadget from selling the dolls, a few were smuggled out and made it onto eBay, where they were going for $2,500. But Apple has blocked further sales, citing a California law that requires merchants to get an individual’s permission before selling products based on their likeness.

According to Fortune Tech, the eBay sellers seemed well aware that they wouldn’t have much time to peddle the Steves:

As you might recall, lawyers representing Apple ordered M.I.C Gadget, a Chinese specialty manufacturer, to stop selling its $99 SJ Action Figure late last month. According to Apple’s warning letter, the figurine violated a California statute that prohibits use of a person’s likeness in a product without prior consent.

Two weeks later, the toys starting appearing — an apparently selling — on eBay at a Buy It Now price of $2,500. …

he last auction, posted Tuesday, tried to cash in on the controversy:

“APPLE HAD ALL STEVE JOBS ACTION FIGURE AUCTIONS REMOVED!” read the description. “BUY IT NOW SO YOU CAN GET ONE! HURRY! NO GUARANTEE THAT THIS AUCTION WILL RUN A FULL DAY!”

The action figure came with its own iPhone, and sported Jobs’ trademark black shirt, jeans and New Balance sneakers. It even included stick-on word balloons that buyers could customize with their favorite Steve-ism (our favorite: “There is no antennagate.”). The word balloons are still available from M.I.C. But, for now at least, if you want to add Steve to your collection, your best bet may be to make your own at home.

Apple re-kills Steve Jobs doll [Fortune Tech]
Phenomenal SJ Figure Hands-on [M.I.C. Gadget]
DIY Steve Jobs Paper Doll: Hip to Be Square [Cult of Mac]

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  1. hypochondriac says:

    So California laws apply to other states and countries as well? Just curious if that company wanted to see the dolls in a country where permission isn’t need would they be allowed to?

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      IANAL, but I did do some law classes in undergrad/grad…

      A lot of these stuff depends on where you sell the good, where the various likenesses/trademarks are protected, and various other Byzantine legal structures.

      It seems doubtful that Apple could stop this everywhere any anywhere, but the company making the doll probably didn’t want to find out.

    • El_Red says:

      It depends on eBay’s main location. eBay is USA based company. This is why you won’t see any Cuban goods, for example. Even if eBay’s users are all over the world, local USA’s laws still apply on every auction.

      • MrEvil says:

        eBay is based in San Jose California. I drove by their HQ a couple times when I was there on business earlier this month. Alot of companies will play ball simply to avoid litigation even if there is no legal standing.

      • sven.kirk says:

        No, you can’t buy Cuban goods due to FEDERAL laws prohibiting such actions.
        Now the problem is if this seller decided to use a reseller quasi-based in California. Thus having to conform to their laws.
        If they sold it on their own, they would only need to follow only their local/federal laws.
        Now, I’m not saying that Apple still wouldn’t get their panties in a wad somehow and still get their way.

    • shthar says:

      I hate to break it to you pal, but ebay will even end an auction if it violates the laws of another country!

      If you try to sell any kind of Nazi stuff, even a copy of mein kampf, you have to say you will not sell or deliver to Germany, Frnace or Italy. Cuz its agin the law to sell that stuff there.

      Is sharia ebay next???

  2. Rachacha says:

    if you want to add Steve to your collection, your best bet may be to make your own at home

    Or, if you are not artistic, there are companies that will create custom dolls/bobble heads from photographs. They run about $140, and as you are hiring an artist to create an item specifically for you, and the payment is to cover the cost of the time that the artist spent creating the art (not for the cost of purchasing the doll), you should not run into any legal issues…but what do I know, IANAL

  3. El_Red says:

    Did they sell any?

  4. katarzyna says:

    Steve Jobs needs to develop a sense of humor.

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      Unfortunately, a sense of humor only goes so far when you are part of the brand of a major multinational corporation.

    • Foot_Note says:

      or maybe he just wants a cut of the profits?

    • El_Red says:

      He is already known as dishonest person.
      ”Your holding your phone wrong” is only one of several lies Apple kept and keeps pushing onto its users.
      Sadly, all this bad PR could have been avoided from the start, by owning the problem and throwing a free bumper-case to everyone. This is how you build loyalty.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      Quick, developers! Make the iLaugh a reality!

  5. deathbecomesme says:

    wow, that figurine is pretty damn awesome. Im not a Mac fan but the detail in the jeans and shoes is pretty good.

  6. lehrdude says:

    Does this mean I should forget about Santa bringing me the Ben & Phil dolls that I wished for???

  7. Rocket says:

    C’mon Apple, do you know how many people would buy these? You should make your own. I’d buy one.

  8. al says:

    Yet California has no problem with cameramen swarming on celebrities everywhere they go in order to get pictures to sell to magazines.

    Good job California. There is no question why you are in the toilet.

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      And it has nothing to do with paparazzi. California’s single largest source of financial pain is, and will continue to be, the proposition-based hyperdemocracy. By taking the choice to spend money outside of the hands of people who are directly responsible for how tax dollars are spent, California has managed to give itself the worst of both worlds: not only does it make it overly easy to spend state dollars, it takes many big spending decisions outside of the hands of those who should be making those choices (state legislators) rendering them disinterested parties.

    • Billy says:

      I’m sure this is the prime reason (end sarcasm).

      There IS a huge difference between photos being taken for news stories and a company selling goods with a celebrity’s likeness. Apparently those differences don’t spoil your fun.

    • Billy says:

      I’m sure this is the prime reason (end sarcasm).

      There IS a huge difference between photos being taken for news stories and a company selling goods with a celebrity’s likeness. Apparently those differences don’t spoil your fun.

  9. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    But, but… I can’t make my own artistic celebrity look-alike plastic molds at home!!

  10. rambo76098 says:

    So if it’s only illegal in California, just list it from another state and put: “Not available for sale or shipping to California”? Didn’t know 1 state’s laws applied to all the others.

  11. Sidecutter says:

    Really? Doll? Action figure?

    It’s a figurine or a statuette, perhaps. This is in no way an action figure or doll of any kind.

    • Maximus Pectoralis says:

      It’s about as action-packed as Steve Jobs himself! (at least in comparison to Steve Ballmer maybe…)

      • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

        I would pay for a Ballmer figure that screams “DEVELOPERS” over and over again. I’d pay real money.

  12. Mike says:

    Dear Steve Jobs:

    Get over yourself.

    Signed,
    Everyone with a Sense of Humor

  13. AI says:

    Here’s the statute:
    Search CAL. CIV. CODE § 3344 : California Code – Section 3344

    (a)Any person who knowingly uses another’s name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness, in any manner, on or in products, merchandise, or goods, or for purposes of advertising or selling, or soliciting purchases of, products, merchandise, goods or services, without such person’s prior consent, or, in the case of a minor, the prior consent of his parent or legal guardian, shall be liable for any damages sustained by the person or persons injured as a result thereof. In addition, in any action brought under this section, the person who violated the section shall be liable to the injured party or parties in an amount equal to the greater of seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) or the actual damages suffered by him or her as a result of the unauthorized use, and any profits from the unauthorized use that are attributable to the use and are not taken into account in computing the actual damages. In establishing such profits, the injured party or parties are required to present proof only of the gross revenue attributable to such use, and the person who violated this section is required to prove his or her deductible expenses. Punitive damages may also be awarded to the injured party or parties. The prevailing party in any action under this section shall also be entitled to attorney’s fees and costs.

    (b)As used in this section, “photograph” means any photograph or photographic reproduction, still or moving, or any videotape or live television transmission, of any person, such that the person is readily identifiable.

    (1)A person shall be deemed to be readily identifiable from a photograph when one who views the photograph with the naked eye can reasonably determine that the person depicted in the photograph is the same person who is complaining of its unauthorized use.

    (2)If the photograph includes more than one person so identifiable, then the person or persons complaining of the use shall be represented as individuals rather than solely as members of a definable group represented in the photograph. A definable group includes, but is not limited to, the following examples: a crowd at any sporting event, a crowd in any street or public building, the audience at any theatrical or stage production, a glee club, or a baseball team.

    (3)A person or persons shall be considered to be represented as members of a definable group if they are represented in the photograph solely as a result of being present at the time the photograph was taken and have not been singled out as individuals in any manner.

    (c)Where a photograph or likeness of an employee of the person using the photograph or likeness appearing in the advertisement or other publication prepared by or in behalf of the user is only incidental, and not essential, to the purpose of the publication in which it appears, there shall arise a rebuttable presumption affecting the burden of producing evidence that the failure to obtain the consent of the employee was not a knowing use of the employee’s photograph or likeness.

    (d)For purposes of this section, a use of a name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness in connection with any news, public affairs, or sports broadcast or account, or any political campaign, shall not constitute a use for which consent is required under subdivision (a).

    (e)The use of a name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness in a commercial medium shall not constitute a use for which consent is required under subdivision (a) solely because the material containing such use is commercially sponsored or contains paid advertising. Rather it shall be a question of fact whether or not the use of the person’s name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness was so directly connected with the commercial sponsorship or with the paid advertising as to constitute a use for which consent is required under subdivision (a).

    (f)Nothing in this section shall apply to the owners or employees of any medium used for advertising, including, but not limited to, newspapers, magazines, radio and television networks and stations, cable television systems, billboards, and transit ads, by whom any advertisement or solicitation in violation of this section is published or disseminated, unless it is established that such owners or employees had knowledge of the unauthorized use of the person’s name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness as prohibited by this section.

    (g)The remedies provided for in this section are cumulative and shall be in addition to any others provided for by law.
    —————————-
    IANAL, but it sounds to me like it doesn’t apply, as eBay itself is not using the likeness, the seller is, and the seller is located in Canada where the statute doesn’t apply.

    • Billy says:

      I think that section f would put ebay on the hook. It could be argued that ebay is a method of advertising the sale or solicitation. Ebay was put on notice by Apple’s lawyers.

    • Gulliver says:

      Once Ebay gets PAID for this sale, they become a party to it. They have effectively become an agent. As for those complaining about the law, it seems like a good idea. Should somebody be allowed to use a likeness of Paul McCartney to endorse a veal producer when he is a known vegetarian?

  14. yessongs says:

    You need a Steve Balmer action figure next with leaping action that holds a windows phone/

  15. Southern says:

    I’m far more curious as to how Apple was able to successfully stop a chiese company from producing an item, when the entire US Government fails at doing it…

    • Billy says:

      Apple didn’t stop them from making the object. Apple only stopped the sale (and only in certain places).

      Why does the government care if some company is making Steve Jobs bobble heads? I’m pretty sure that the only person who really cares is Steve Jobs.

      • Rachacha says:

        “Why does the government care if some company is making Steve Jobs bobble heads?”

        I believe that Southern was referring to the large number of products that are manufactured in China only to be recalled as they don’t comply with the applicable safety standards established by the government.

        • Billy says:

          I guess, but that only makes sense if these bobbleheads didn’t, in fact, comply with the applicable safety standards established by the government. Is that the case? If not, then why does the government care?

          I was wrong, though, about Apple shutting down actual manufacture of the dolls. There was a shutdown because of copyright infringement (http://www.techtree.com/India/Techtree_Notes/Apple_Says_Cease_Desist_To_Jobs_Figurine/551-113626-889.html)

        • Billy says:

          I guess, but that only makes sense if these bobbleheads didn’t, in fact, comply with the applicable safety standards established by the government. Is that the case? If not, then why does the government care?

          I was wrong, though, about Apple shutting down actual manufacture of the dolls. There was a shutdown because of copyright infringement (http://www.techtree.com/India/Techtree_Notes/Apple_Says_Cease_Desist_To_Jobs_Figurine/551-113626-889.html)

        • Southern says:

          Exactly, Rachacha.. I’m sure (our) government doesn’t care about the bobble-head dolls, but there are many OTHER products that China produces that get shipped over here (like all those imitation Coach purses, Gucci sunglasses, fake Rolexes), and/or other items that don’t meet either our safety standards OR our copyright standards, and yet our own government is pretty much powerless to do anything about it..

          But Apple says “knock it off”, (Twice, apparently) and they knock it off.

          Just weird, is all I’m sayin’ :)

      • Southern says:

        “After Apple successfully stopped manufacturer M.I.C. Gadget from selling the dolls”

        So apparently Apple actually stopped the manufacturer (in China) to stop selling the dolls (what’s the point of making them if they can’t sell them)?

        This isn’t a first for Apple, either – they also forced a company (also in China) to stop making knock-offs of the IPhone.

        Just curious how they did that, I guess. They sure seem to have more power than our own government in making manufacturer bow to their whims.

    • DH405 says:

      They threatened to throw them off of a Foxconn dormitory.

  16. coren says:

    So if ebay has to stop the sales because they’re based on California and there’s a law about it..does that mean other California laws apply to transactions done on ebay? Like if scalping were illegal in California I couldn’t sell tickets above face value on ebay?

  17. Hungry Dog says:

    I have some Steive Yobs figures that look quite similar to this on sale. (Any likeness to any individual either living or dead is pure coincidence.)

  18. sendmoney2me says:

    how do they know it’s steve jobs and not this guy? he looks just like steve lol

    http://goo.gl/3GR2B

  19. rownin says:

    So apple starts out being “anti-establishment,” but turns out to be another suit – what a scrub, people are spending millions – a smart person would have licensed out the product. Oh what’s that, you dont want your face infront of millions of potential customers and inturn have them think about ur products…