Chances are you or someone you know has purchased and assembled furniture from IKEA. It’s a Herculean task to attempt solo, and if you undertake it with a friend or loved one, your relationship may not survive the strain. Those of us who have come out the other end of the building process sweaty and filled with impotent rage may wonder how anyone might have anything beyond a grudging respect for IKEA, to say nothing of love. But the company has more than its share of passionate fans in online communities, spreading their love of pre-packaged furniture across the internet. Unfortunately, one blogger who runs a site devoted to the Swedish furniture giants and their products may find herself in an intellectual property infringement legal bind that will take more than an allen wrench to solve.
IKEA sent a cease-and-desist letter to the founder of IKEAhackers.net, demanding she transfer the domain over to the company. The site shows users how to transform and repurpose furniture and other goods from the store into new and innovative products. IKEAhackers.net was started eight years ago by a Malaysian blogger using the pseudonym Jules Yap, and has cultivated a considerable following amongst fans looking to share their IKEA hacks with fellow enthusiasts. Traffic on the site grew to the point that Yap was able to sell advertising, allowing her to keep maintaining the site as a full time occupation. It was this commercialization of the site that seems to have finally placed the site in IKEA’s legal crosshairs, prompting the company to take action.
In the time since the initial cease-and-desist was issued, IKEA has softened their stance somewhat, and has negotiated with Yap to allow her to keep the site, provided she remove all advertising. The company emailed a statement to CNBC, stating :
"We want to clarify that we deeply regret the situation at hand with IKEA Hackers. It has of course never been our ambition to stop their webpage. On the contrary, we very much appreciate the interest in our products and the fact that there are people around the world that love our products as much as we do.”
Yap, for her part, has agreed to remove the advertising for the time being, and is currently planning to move the site to another domain. In her blog post on the matter, Yap states that “IKEAhackers.net was set up in 2006 and truly not with the intent to exploit their mark. I was a just crazy fan. In retrospect, a naïve one, too.”
It would seem to be another case where the line between positive promotion from ardent fans and trademark infringement is blurred in the age of social media.
Get started with our risk quiz and be proactive about managing your IP.