Swedish furniture company, IKEA, has sent a cease and desist letter to a popular fansite associated with their products. IKEAhackers.net is a community of enthusiasts who modify and re-imagine IKEA furniture kits; transforming them into something completely different. This move has drawn criticism from across the internet, and some are saying that it is a giant mistake.
Run by Malaysian Jules Yap, IKEAhackers.net has been operating for the last eight years. In that time it has become the place for IKEA customers who want something different from their store bought furniture. The DIY nature of IKEA kits makes them particularly suited for this sort of modifications, and the website has become a large community of like minded people. Because of this, Yap has been selling advertising space on the site in order to support it.
These ads are what appear to be irking IKEA, as Yap has been allowed to maintain the domain name only if she takes down all advertising on the site and make it non-commercial in nature.
Yap wrote in a blog post, “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.”
Online journalist Cory Doctorow expressed surprise at the outcome of the legal discussion between the two parties. Doctorow believes that the trademark claim is “bogus” and completely unenforceable in a court of law. He raises several arguments about why trademarks are not the same as copyright; admitting that a large amount of trademark laws are surrounded by urban legend.
Yap is now moving the site to a new domain name, although she has not yet determined what the new one will be at this time. There is no knowing if the new domain will have advertising to support it, or if IKEA will come after that one too if it does. In any case, Yap is also holding on to the IKEAhackers.net domain name – it will just remain used.
Thanks to @memeranglaut for pointing this out to us.