The one-man indie game studio, Ziggy, has created The Store is Closed, a survival game that takes place in an “infinite furniture store,” where players must build fortifications and weapons so that they can survive the night. The problem: Jacob Shaw, the man behind Ziggy, must first survive a legal action claiming trademark infringement. Shaw has been served with a cease and desist letter from lawyers representing IKEA, the (real-life) Swedish furniture chain. The proposed game is in the final week of its Kickstarter campaign, and it has raised £45,000, with a planned release in 2024.
IKEA’s lawyers claim that The Store Is Closed uses distinguishing marks that are associated with IKEA’s famous stores. As the cease and desist letter points out, this includes a blue and yellow sign on the store with a Scandinavian name, a blue box-like facility that looks like IDEA’s building and yellow striped shirts that are exactly like those worn by IKEA employees. There is also an identical gray path on the floors, IKEA-like furniture and copycat IKEA product signage. The letter states that all of this suggests that the game clearly takes place inside an IKEA store.
Shaw has been informed that his unauthorized use of such IKEA indicia amounts to false advertising and unfair competition, according to the U.S. Trademark Act, 15 U.S. C § 1125(a), Sections 43(a).
The game developer disputes the infringement claims, saying that the signage only appears on the main menu of the game, while generic furniture is used for the in-game furnishings. However, both press and players have compared the horror game to IKEA stores. He has been given 10 days to remove all markings associated with the IKEA brand.
Shaw is currently scrambling to redesign the entire game so that he doesn’t get sued.