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IKEA sends cease and desist to indie dev making survival horror set in furniture store

The Store is Closed is a survival horror title set in an infinite furniture store.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

October 31, 2022

2 Min Read
A screenshot of the store in The Store is Closed

Flat-pack furniture mogul IKEA has sent a cease and desist letter to indie developer Jacob Shaw requesting he make changes to his work-in-progress survival horror title, which takes place in an infinite furniture store.

As highlighted by Kotaku, lawyers representing IKEA claim Shaw's protect, The Store is Closed, is committing trademark infringement because it uses iconography and symbols that are widely associated with IKEA.

Shaw has been attempting to finance the project through Kickstarter, and has raised £52,882 through the crowdfunding platform at the time of writing. That means the project has smashed its target of £10,000 with three days still left on the clock.

On its Steam page, The Store is Closed is described as "a co-op survival game set in an infinite furniture store."

"When the lights go out, the staff attack. You’ll need to craft weapons, and build fortifications to survive the night. Explore the underground SCP laboratories and build towers to the sky to find a way out," continues the description.

Although the IKEA name hasn't been used by Shaw, the retailer is taking issue with what it claims is the unauthorised use of "indicia associated with the famous IKEA stores."

"Your game uses a blue and yellow sign with a Scandinavian name on the store, a blue box-like building, yellow vertical stiped shirts identical to those worn by IKEA personnel, a gray path on the floor, furniture that looks like IKEA furniture, and product signage that looks like IKEA signage. All the foregoing immediately suggest that the game takes place in an IKEA store," reads the cease and desist.

IKEA is also using snippets of press coverage, including reader comments, to back up its copyright infringement claims, and notes that "numerous comments by readers of these stories [which mention IKEA] make an association with IKEA stores."

Shaw, however, has explained that many of the allegedly infringing signage – such as the yellow and blue "STYR" sign – only appears briefly on the menu screen, and told Kotaku that the furniture featured in-game comes from generic asset packs.

Still, IKEA's legal team have told Shaw that "unauthorized use of the IKEA indicia constitutes unfair competition and false advertising under Sections 43(a) of the U.S. Trademark Act, 15 U.S. C § 1125(a), and state unfair competition and false advertising laws," and have given the developer 10 working days to make changes to the project and remove all offending indicia.

Shaw is currently seeking legal advice, but feels that he'll ultimately have no choice but to meet IKEA's demands.

"I was going to spend the last week of my Kickstarter preparing an update for all the new alpha testers," he told Kotaku. "But now I’ve got to desperately revamp the entire look of the game so I don’t get sued."

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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