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Ikea issues cease and desist against indie developer

Furniture retailer demands changes to unreleased horror game The Store Is Closed

Swedish retail giant Ikea has threatened legal action against a solo developer over the setting of his upcoming horror title.

Developed by Jacob Shaw, The Store Is Closed is a co-operative survival game that's currently in development and seeking funding on Kickstarter.

The title is set in an "infinite furniture store" where players will need to "craft weapons and build fortifications to survive the night" while they "build towers to the sky to find a way out."

Some press outlets likened the project to a horror game set in an Ikea store, which has prompted the retailer to issue a cease and desist letter to Shaw.

He has ten days to "change the game and remove all indicia associated with the famous Ikea stores."

Kotaku has reviewed the cease and desist letter from Fross Zelnick, Ikea's New York-based legal representatives, which details some of the retailer's complaints.

"Your game uses a blue and yellow sign with a Scandinavian name on the store, a blue box-like building, yellow vertical striped 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."

Shaw shared an early alpha build with Kotaku and addressed some of the retailer's complaints. For example, the game's store is called 'STYR' which is both a joke spelling of the word 'store' and the Swedish word for 'controls.'

The blue box-like building only ever appears on the menu screen, as does the blue and yellow signage. Meanwhile, the furniture displayed in-game comes from generic furniture asset packs Shaw purchased.

The Kickstarter campaign and other promotional materials also make no mention of the word 'Ikea.'

Nonetheless, the retailer's lawyers maintain that The Store Is Closed constitutes “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.”

Shaw is currently seeking legal advice, but told Kotaku he is also preparing to follow 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 the site. "But now I’ve got to desperately revamp the entire look of the game so I don’t get sued.”

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James Batchelor

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James Batchelor has been a journalist in the games industry since 2006, joining GamesIndustry in 2016, and also runs Non-Violent Game of the Day (@NVGOTD). He does play violent games, but always on Story/Easy mode.

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