Ikea Threatens Legal Action Against Furniture Hacking Site

Fan site IKEAHackers.net will be forced to remove Ikea from its name.

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.

Read the letter here.

*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.

[Image: Ikea via Taina Sohlman / Shutterstock]

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14 Comments

  • Jules Ikeahacker

    Hi, this is Jules from IKEAHackers.net. Just wanted to say that there is a typo on my name. It should be Jules Yap, not Yan and the name of the site is IKEAhackers.net, not IKEAhacks.net as written on the subhead. Other than that, thanks Mark for the coverage.

  • Nick Fox

    See you all on FlatPackHacks.com. (See, we don't need their name if we're creative) Suck it, IKEA! We don't need you to have fun.

  • christine.barrett

    IKEA is an acronym and should be written in all capitals; Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd (the farm where he grew up), and Agunnaryd (his hometown in Småland, south Sweden).

  • hello2016

    It's funny how badly Ikea failed here. As Gareth said, this was a good marketing opportunity for them to show that they understand a younger, diy, (sometimes poorer), creative, demographic -- namely Millennials. It's clear they don't and are a bunch of corporate numb-nuts. This story will just be another reminder to young people that their stores are endless labyrinths where couples just end up fighting over poor quality products. Not a good experience.

  • Louise Rainone

    This doesn't make sense to me. While I can tolerate Ikea on it's own...what Ikea hackers is doing is making the product better. In a world looking for mass customization they should have partnered with them to promote the products in a truly customizable way. This is very disheartening and very small minded of Ikea... typical large corporate entity.

  • Jon Butterworth

    Ikea are shooting themselves in the foot with this. The quality of their product goes down year on year - sites like this give consumers the opportunity to make the junk Ikea sell into something more desirable.

  • Why all this "hacking"? I know humans respond better to four letter monosyllabic words, but "hack" has become hackneyed in the vernacular. Would IKEA have objected less if it was ikeaMOD? The word "hack" has bad connotations.

    I do agree though that Ikea's legal actions are misguided and may actually drive customers away.

  • The law is clear. The application of this clear law in this case is stupid. If anything this site drives purchasing of IKEA products and then show people how flexible and adaptable their designs are. IKEA should be proud of and support the actions of people like this that have adopted their brand so wholeheartedly.

    You cannot buy this kind of following, it has to come from a grassroots love of a brand. IKEA would do well to nurture them and support them and spin PR gold from it rather than turning it all into sour grapes. FAIL!

  • Jeremy Segal

    What a shame.

    IKEA could have spent a fraction of the time/cost of this legal action to work out something with Jules that would be less punitive to her AND still protects their own interests.

    I'm a big fan of the store and a regular IKEAhackers visitor. Jules isn't trying to trick anybody or misrepresent the site. It's not like she's taking those ad dollars AWAY from IKEA.

    Plus, the site has TONS of links directly to IKEA's site, a potential boon to the company's sales and to their search rankings.