Lawrence Townsend, an attorney with the San Francisco-based intellectual property firm of Owen, Wickersham and Erickson, said that Cheung's action figure is in "clear violation of the right of publicity."
Right of publicity is a state law that protects an individual's identity, voice, image, photograph or signature from being used commercially without consent. After a person dies, those rights are usually transferred to that person's family or estate in a successor-in-interest claim.
California, the state where Jobs lived with his family and Apple Inc., is headquartered, passed the Celebrity Rights Act in 1985, which protects a celebrity's personality rights up to 70 years after his or her death.
"[Jobs' estate] has every right to enforce this," Townsend said. "I expect there will be a lawsuit to follow."
A quick search of the California's special filings registry did not turn up a listing for a successor-in-interest claim for "Steve Jobs" or "Steven Paul Jobs," but Townsend said Jobs' estate could file to obtain those rights at any time.
Requests for comments from Apple regarding In icon's collectible were not immediately returned.
"A big fan" of Steve Jobs who said he wrote an unauthorized biography of the tech tycoon many years ago, Cheung said he started making his Jobs' action figure long before the world knew the Apple CEO was sick. While Jobs' death was "really shocking," Cheung said the timing of his doll's release is "just coincidence."
"I love Steve Jobs for many years," he said. "I didn't know when he would die, but we did have it prepared."
In fact, the current Steve Jobs action figure is the eighth version of the doll that has been improved over time, Cheung said.
While Steve Jobs is the first doll In icons has produced, Cheung said now that his company has a partnership in place with a manufacturer and distributor, it plans to make other dolls of iconic figures, slated to be released later this year -- although Cheung wouldn't say of whom the dolls would be.
"I think the best way to remember [Jobs] is to make an action figure of him," he said.