“IKEA hijacked my name”

A Swedish man is taking on the might of IKEA, the world’s biggest purveyor of cheap furniture, after the company named a coffee table after his family.

Erik Svansbo’s family took its name from the ancestral home that has belonged to them for twelve generations. Previously called Andersson, they adopted their new surname in the seventies, and it is now borne by thirteen family members.

IKEA’s Svansbo table, which costs 199 crowns and is made out of fibreboard, paper and steel, is not a worthy bearer of the name, the family says.

Swedish law places strict limits on the use of family names. For instance, a company cannot use a distinctive surname as its company name, unless it is also the surname of the company owner.

Svansbo, a student in Norrköping and activist for the Liberal Party, says that his name should also be protected from abuse at the hands of occasional furniture. He says that a lawyer has advised the family to sue, “but we dare not take on the financial risk”.

IKEA says that they should be allowed to use the name, as it is also the name of a place, and place names do not enjoy the same protection as personal names. But according to Dagens Nyheter, the furniture giant is not getting much support from PRV, the Swedish Patent and Registration Office.

“Svansbo does not have a registered postcode, so the family has the right to the name,” said Runo Swärd at PRV.

At IKEA headquarters, bosses professed to be baffled by all the fuss. “We are more used to people contacting us asking to have furniture named after them,” said Fredrik Wahrolén, Ikea’s press man. He added that it was possible that the company would drop the name in the future.

Sources: Sveriges Radio, Dagens Nyheter