A fansite for modifying Ikea furniture has been asked to dissociate itself from Ikea’s trademark.
Jules Yap*, the owner and operator of Ikeahackers.net—a site you might visit if you were looking to build an Ikea lamp into an Ikea headboard, or transform an Ikea table into an entertainment stand—has posted a letter to her readers, explaining that, months ago, Ikea sent a cease and desist letter to the site, requesting the URL be voluntarily transferred to the company and threatening further legal action should she not comply.
"Long story short, after much negotiation between their agent and my lawyer, I am allowed to keep the domain name IKEAhackers.net only on the condition that it is non-commercial, meaning no advertising whatsoever," she explains in the letter.
The matter at hand is an intellectual property dispute. "Ikea" is trademarked. As the United States Patent and Trademark Office explains, "A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others." Yap is openly advertising her business with Ikea’s trademark.
Her letter continues:
I agreed to that demand. Because the name IKEAhackers is very dear to me and I am soooo reluctant to give it up. I love this site’s community and what we have accomplished in the last 8 years. Secondly, I don’t have deep enough pockets to fight a mammoth company in court....
...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 naive one too. It is not an excuse but that was just how it was when I registered IKEAhackers. Over the last 8 years the site has grown so much that I could not juggle the demands of a full time job and managing IKEAhackers. It also costs quite a bit to run a site this large. Since IKEA® does not pay me a cent, I turned to advertising to support myself and this site.
Now by June 23rd, I would need to take down the ads, not earn any income and still advance their brand on this site. Wonderful!
Yap’s letter explains that she is planning on migrating the existing site—with ads—to a new Ikea-less domain. Yes, Yap is actively using Ikea's trademark in her business. But you have to wonder, is it ever a good decision to take legal action against an ardent fanbase? Does a site rallying Ikea modders called "SwedishModernFurnitureHackers.net" really serve the Ikea brand better?
We’ve reached out to both Ikea and Yap for further comment.
*An earlier version of this article misspelled Yap's last name and the name of Yap's site in the subhead. We regret the errors.