The news sent Playboy shares down 13 percent to $3.35 in morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange, while Iconix shares were up 1 percent at $12.09 on Nasdaq.
Both Playboy and Iconix said they had no comment on the matter, but Playboy spokesperson Martha Lindeman said the company had a board meeting on Tuesday.
The situation is still fluid and may be resolved soon, Bloomberg quoted a source as saying.
Iconix, which owns and licenses clothing brands such as Candies, Joe Boxer, and Rocawear, was looking to bring in a publishing partner to buy Playboy's namesake magazine while it would keep the brand licensing part of the company, sources told Reuters in November.
Last month, Playboy Enterprises said it will outsource all its publishing operations except for editorial to American Media Inc in a bid to cut costs and return its namesake magazine to profitability in two years.
(Additional reporting by A.Ananthalakshmi in Bangalore; Editing by Dave Zimmerman, Anne Pallivathuckal)