Ikea fan site under legal pressure from furniture giant

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IkeaHackers was set up by fans of the Swedish furniture giant, allowing people to share the clever ways they had adapted the furniture in order to create unique pieces, and handy solutions to very specific problems. The site is very popular - however, not with the furniture store themselves.

They were contacted by Ikea, who cited copyright infringement, and agreed to let the site continue only if it removed all its adverts.


The row

The site contains some brilliant ideas - some of which come with detailed instructions. These include a Lego table made from a Torsby table frame, 7,176 Lego bricks, and a sheet of tempered glass. There's also a Lack shelf made into a coffee table, a Broder metal shelving unit converted into a tabletop, and a Noresund bed frame used as outdoor railings.

The owner of IkeaHackers, Jules Yap from Malaysia, had been running the site for eight years when Ikea contacted her claiming intellectual property rights had been infringed. She said in her blog: "after much negotiation between their agent and my lawyer" she was allowed to keep her domain name and continue to operate the site - as long as it was non-commercial, and didn't feature any adverts.

Ikea told the BBC: "We feel a great responsibility to our customers and that they always can trust Ikea... many people want to know what really is connected to Ikea - and what isn't. And we think that people should have that right. When other companies use the Ikea name for economic gain, it creates confusion and rights are lost."

Jap said she was 'crushed' and wished the firm had handled things differently. She added that she couldn't afford to work for nothing on the site - and would set up a new site shortly.

Not the first

It's not the first time that a company has faced issues over a name. We reported in May about the fish and chip shop in Essex called "The Only Way is Fish". They had been contacted by the makers of "The Only Way is Essex" who insisted they changed the name because they owned the intellectual property in the "The Only way Is..." brand.

We also reported on the small Missouri brewery that received a legal letter from Starbucks after The Exit 6 Pub and Brewery started serving a beer which its patrons called 'Frappicino'. The beer was a blend of two served by the bar, and was never sold under that name, but after two locals referred to it on a website, Starbucks got in touch.

The letter said that the names were "phonetically identical" and that it "is likely to cause confusion, mistake." The owner responded that the name would have been completely identical (and not spelled differently) if they had been better at spelling, but sent the firm $6 and a sarcastic reply that hit social media.

But one of the oddest cases was two years ago, when the website ThinkGeek.com advertised a fake product for April Fool's Day called "Canned Unicorn Meat", with the slogan "The New White Meat". The site was sent a letter by the National Pork Board for infringement of their slogan "The other white meat".

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