Following an eight-year run of instructing devoted readers on how to construct everything from outdoor coffee tables to hanging rat cages using odds and ends purchased from Swedish home goods emporium IKEA
, a wildly popular website is now at a crossroads:
gives up its name or feel the full wrath of the very retailer that it enthusiastically obsesses over.
As reported by the Washington Post
, several months ago IKEAhackers founder/hacker-in-chief Jules Yap (a pseudonym, Jules being the name of a chair spotted in an IKEA catalog), received a cease and desist letter from IKEA’s legal team threatening to slap her with a lawsuit for infringing upon the company’s intellectual property rights if she did not fully hand over the domain name IKEAhackers.net to IKEA. Yap hired an attorney and, after much back and forth, a deal was struck: she’d be able to keep the IKEAhackers.net domain with the provision that she pull any and all advertising from the blog.
You see, community-driven IKEAhackers didn’t originally launch as a commercial enterprise. However, as the site blossomed and evolved from a Blogspot blog to became a full-time endeavor for Yap, the modest revenue produced by the ads became what kept the blog up and running. Without ad revenue, IKEAhackers would be forced to close up shop.
Explains Yap on a post published on June 14, titled “Big changes are coming to IKEAhackers:”
Needless to say, I am crushed. I don’t have an issue with them protecting their trademark but I think they could have handled it better. I am a person, not a corporation. A blogger who obviously is on their side. Could they not have talked to me like normal people do without issuing a C&D?
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!
And so, Yap will be setting up a yet-to-be-announced domain name (an IKEA-less one, obviously) and rebuilding IKEAhackers. She’s asking that the entire IH community to follow her there when the new site is launched. Registered users with the site will be notified via email when the new site is up and ready to go.
Most of all, no matter how the future of IKEAhackers turns, I want to thank you for being a part of this community. Because of your support over the years the site has grown to be what it is today – a community that I am really proud of. It is a joy for me to showcase your hacks and share your inspiration with the world.
So what gives? IKEA has obviously been aware of IKEAhackers for years now with the retailer and an ingenuity-minded fan blog coexisting in perfect harmony. So why in the world is IKEA going after Yap now? And what grounds does the company really have?
BoingBoing’s Cory Doctorow, who deems IKEA’s claims of trademark violation to be completely “bogus,” believes
it all boils down to money.
There’s no trademark violation here — the use of Ikea’s name is purely factual. The fact that money changes hands on Ikeahackers (which Ikea’s lawyers seem most upset about) has no bearing on the trademark analysis. There is no chance of confusion or dilution from Ikeahackers’ use of the mark. This is pure bullying, an attempt at censorship.
Given that the IKEAhackers consists of a Swedish meatball-fueled community of IKEA lovers, not haters, it’s also tremendously ill-advised PR move for the retailer, as Gizmodo’s Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan wonderfully explains:
This is a huge mistake for Ikea, a company that prospers from the devotion of its fans. It's hard to find a person who doesn't foster a little kernel of Ikea love in their heart, like a Swedish meatball warming on a metal rack. IkeaHackers is a place to talk about that love and share creative ideas about it. It's harmless fun, a burgeoning community of fans who are excited about Ikea and the hidden genius of its products. And what's more, it gets more people excited about the company (and into its stores).
Foot. Shot. Ouch. IKEAhackers nation: care to comment?
Via [Washington Post], [Gizmodo]
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