I’m sure it’s just a over zealous staffer.
Maybe this could be case to rally the goons and make Ikea feel the wrath of the internet?
Cory, I know you dislike everything military, and with some quite sound reasons, but can we please stop with the overblown tank symbolism thing?
Nothing wrong with a jocose cover picture for the article, but I’m beginning to suspect you have an unhealthy fixation here.
This is kinda what I thought they were after, not any other concerns.
Under the guise of protecting trademark, it looks exactly like they’re seeking to close down unrelated fan sites with established communities. Basically, they let others do the groundwork for them — all the trial and error, at first making no money at a hobby, and then building a relationship with a community. No corporation wants to do any of that.
Now they want to simply step in and take over what other people built, not “in their name” but “as their fans” and as a separate entity. The Martins, who run Ikeafans, never had any form of written contract from Ikea promising eventual compensation if the attempted site was a success and taken over. Instead, with no contract, Ikea still knew they were benefitting from the existence of the site – and got several employees to become members on it. So they were learning how to do it all along - for free, with no risk, and then they copied the model.
Now they know how, and they want to kill their competition.
I think they’re trying this because online merchandisers have a major problem with brand loyalty. That’s partially why the whole Facebook depression test happened. They wanted to know if they could change people’s emotions because it’s so hard to predict how people will buy online.
If a company could just steal a community full of faithful fans, then they wouldn’t have to worry about brand loyalty anymore. All they’d have to do is directed market research, and targeted advertising. Doesn’t that make their job a lot easier?
Sheesh, even evil, rotten Apple – the poster person for corporations that profit handsomely from the goodwill of legions of volunteer evangelists while refusing to cater to many of their specific cravings – has never taken this big of a steaming dump on its fans.
If this is really about letting others do the hard parts of building an online community, then taking over, can the strategy succeed? Won’t many members of that community be appalled and go find some other furniture/housewares company to be fans of, or at least refuse to participate in the new official community?
What Ikea tried to do first in both these cases was demand a hand over of the existing domain name. Had the site owners not fought against Ikea so heartily, this story might be different right now. We could just be looking at Ikeahackers and Ikeafans getting a quiet change of ownership while the current owners set off to start up new sites elsewhere under names unrelated to Ikea.
Some community members would follow the site, and some would stick around with Ikea. In fact, in the Ikeahackers story, there’s going to be a willing change of domain name in a few months - all to get Ikea off the owner’s back. There’s already a request for new name suggestions at the site.
Happily both sites sites fought this takeover attempt. Since both are owned by private individuals, that’s a bit surprising. Going up against a corporation as a private citizen can be a daunting task to say the least. The Ikeafans have filed suit against Ikea, and Ikea returned the favor. Considering that Ikea is trying to move the venue onto their home turf (knowing they’ve got the financial resources to deal with travel, but the Ikeafans owners may not), this story is already seeing corporate money pushing around private citizens.
At least it’s an actual tank this time.
Those marks became expropriated because other companies were selling similar products that became referred to with those names. (Aspirin, IIRC, was taken from Germany (Bayer) as spoils of war.)
Ikeahackers and Ikeafans are not in the business of selling flat-pack furniture and thus not in competition with Ikea, and no reasonable person would think those sites are run by Ikea, so there’s no dilution of the trademark. The correct course of action was for Ikea to offer a low- or no-cost license to fansites that are essentially acting as free advertising, rather than Streisanding its image and reputation all to shit with obnoxious C&Ds.
Ikea’s lawyers have done far more damage to the company than any enthusiast’s website could.
Well I guess I won’t be buying anymore of that crappy Ikea furniture that I never buy…
It’s not the first time they’ve used this strategy either (it looks like the guy in this story caved in and it wasn’t a big enough site to be noticed much in the first place):
I really can’t see the benefit for Ikea in this though; is not like people aren’t capable of being fans of two sites at the same time and this kind of attitude is just going to turn fans away. At the end of the day it shouldn’t just be about the benefit to the company, but even from that perspective it seems weird.
Dear All Retailers Everywhere:
I don’t want a “relationship” with you, I just wanna buy some stuff that doesn’t fall apart before I make it to the parking lot.
In return for this, take some of my money, ONCE, and let me out the fucking door.
And then, it’s over. Do not call, do not write, do not advise me of “extended warranties.” If da shit breaks, I will throw it away and buy new shit from someone who makes stuff that doesn’t break.
King Snorty McDribblenuts
You forgot “zipper.”
I don’t know how extensive your experience with IKEA furniture is, considering that you don’t buy any, but I have never understood that complaint. In my experience IKEA actually offers excellent quality for their price points. You can buy better furniture if you are willing to pay substantially more, but that’s not exactly a huge surprise. Perhaps it’s better where you live, but around here, if you want to see true furniture desolation you have to look at the independents and small chains trying to compete with IKEA.
Cory left out the most important argument that Ikeafans is not infringing trademark: nominative use. If you’re using a trademark to refer to the product that it names, and not presenting your own product under a false name, you’re legally in the clear. Otherwise, product reviewers, resellers, and even ordinary people simply discussing their stuff, could find themselves the targets of censorship. I can say, “turn right at the Mobil station”, or “I’m planning to bring my PowerShot this weekend because the EOS is too big and heavy,” and I don’t need authorization from Exxon or Canon to say it.
But somehow the lawyers all seem to learn in law school that nominative use is an annoying exception, and their job is to make sure that it’s kept as narrow as possible, or better, interpreted out of existence.
Here’s the part I don’t get - after all this, will Ikea continue to have fans? They remind me of battered wives who keep coming back for more. Note to Ikea fans: sooner or later, they will kill you. Figuratively.
Also, I seem to recall a similar story about Harry Potter fans getting the jerkaround by lawyers, until J.K. Rowling herself told them to knock it off. Sending a C&D letter to a 10 year old girl does not actually make you Perry Mason.
No one seems to have mentioned, perhaps because it’s not as exciting or maybe because it’s surprisingly hard to find on the site as the owner posted it in amongst all the hacks rather than having a separate news section, that a real person from IKEA has contacted the owner of IKEA hackers indicating they’re willing to discuss things rather than just having lawyers clobber the site
I can’t find any follow up since then so I guess discussions are still on going.
Madonna got around this by prepending the letter “L” to her song about her first trip to the store. You remember…Ikea Virgin.