I bought a friend of mine a TOS cast t-shirt because he loved TNG. Loving my gift
he took it away on a holiday to climb the Himalayas where he would be camping and staying in huts without running water and electricity.
He came back and he told me that he was amazed how many people recognised the people on the shirt. In places without TV or movie theatres where they didn't speak English, people would come up to him and say 'Kirk', 'Spock'.
So you claim they're not icons but a lot of people around the world recognise them.
Aside from being an anecdote and thus proof of nothing, this gives no indication of how many people walked by who had no idea who they were.
Non the less, note they said "Kirk" and "Spock" not "Shatner!" "Nimoy!"
Dollars to donuts, your friend could paste Pine and Quinto's faces onto said shirt and get a similar reaction.
Conjecture. Notice how quick you were to dismiss a real experience as proof of nothing, meanwhile some perform message board gymnastics trying to pretend history did not play out a certain way.
The experience the member recalled is fact (unless you have evidence to render it a lie), just as i've experienced the same thing with people who do not count themselves as ST fans.
Take stills from the Fleischer cartoon and MoS and walk around public asking "Which one's Superman?"
Oh, for.... Another silly comparison--almost as out there as the Elmer Fudd post.
For the moment, i'll play...
If I take a pic of Karloff as the Monster, then set it next to stills of Michael Sarrazin & De Niro as the same character, and say, "which one's Frankenstein's Monster?"
Let's see how honest you are about which one will get the nod.
Hint: it will not be the 1973 or 1994 versions.
The same applies to Shatner and Nimoy. They have cut a deep path into the road of pop culture--elevating and in some ways, transcending it, so at best, all you would get in a side by side is John Q. Public looking at nuTrek like a fan film, or cosplay.
Can you even define "icon?"
It has been defined, but if some wish to protect something that (more than likely) will not have TOS impact, then such things do not exist.