March 15, 2011 at 11:50 AM ET
Recently the people behind a tech blog decided to make an action figure which they dubbed the Poking Inventor. The toy looked a lot like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and even had the social network's logo attached to it. As you might guess, Facebook's lawyers weren't too happy about the whole thing.
M.I.C. Gadget, a blog focused on tech knockoffs, reports that it recently received a stern email from a Beijing-based law firm who indicated that it represents Facebook. While it strikes us as odd that Beijing-based lawyers were used instead of Facebook's in-house legal team, we believe that they might've been deemed a more convenient choice for dealings with M.I.C. Gadget — which appears to focus on mainly Asian-based products and topics.
The law firm's email explained that the creation and sale of the Poking Inventor action figure "infringed upon the legitimate rights of Mr. Mark Zuckerberg and FACEBOOK." It also went on to accuse the blog of misleading "the relevant public into believing that [it is] an authorized dealer of Mr. Mark Zuckerberg and FACEBOOK or [that it has] some relationship with Mr. Mark Zuckerberg and FACEBOOK in business and/or in law."
And that's not even the end of things! The law firm made a list of things M.I.C. Gadget needed to do in order to avoid further trouble:
(1) immediately stopping manufacturing and sales of any products infringing the legitimate rights of Mr. Mark Zuckerberg and FACEBOOK, including but not limited to the Action Figures, any accessory containing FACEBOOK’s trademarks; (2) immediately destroying all remaining products infringing legitimate rights of Mr. Mark Zuckerberg and FACEBOOK; (3) immediately disclosing the accounting of your sales of the Mark Zuckerberg Action Figures and any other infringing products; (4) immediately remove all depictions or listings for the Mark Zuckerberg Action Figures from your website.
In response to that list of demands, M.I.C. Gadget has blurred out the face of the Poking Inventor action figure in images, stopped selling and marketing the toy, posted a note clarifying that it has no relationship with Facebook or Zuckerberg, and posted an apology for any inconvenience caused. It also clarified that only 300 action figures were made and that they've all been sold, so no further stock remains. (The Poking Inventor was available through the web site for $69.90.)
We've contacted Facebook and asked whether M.I.C. Gadget's actions satisfy the company or whether there will be further legal interaction between the two. We're still awaiting a response.
One must wonder about M.I.C Gadget though. The blog has dealt with legal threats over an action figure in the likeness of Apple CEO Steve Jobs already. You'd think someone would've thought it wise to ask for permission before making another action figure of a major tech personality.