“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


Ikea will buy back your used furniture at up to half the price

In the run-up to what would in normal times be the festive season sales rush, Ikea has vowed to buy back used furniture from customers to resell – and pay up to 50 percent of the original price.

Ikea will buy back your used furniture at up to half the price
Got any pieces of Ikea furniture at home? You may be able to get rid of it and get money back. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Ikea, the world's largest furniture chain, said Tuesday it would begin buying back used furniture from customers to resell – and pay up to 50 percent of the original price.

The “Buy Back Friday” scheme, timed to coincide with the “Black Friday” pre-Christmas retail frenzy, will run from November 24th and until December 3rd in 27 countries.

“Rather than buy things you don't need this Black Friday, we want to help customers give their furniture a second life instead of making an impulse buy,” said Stefan Vanoverbeke, deputy retail operations manager at Ingka Group, Ikea's parent company.

To address concerns its affordable, flat-pack products encourage overconsumption and waste, the Swedish company had previously said it would start renting and recycling furniture as part of an eco-drive.

Under its buyback scheme, the group said that “anything that can't be resold will be recycled or donated to community projects to help those most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“Some countries like Australia and Canada for example are currently testing different buyback services, but BuyBack Friday will be the first time that 27 countries do this together,” the statement added.

The Swedish giant employs over 217,000 people and has more than 50 outlets. Its annual turnover is around 40 billion euros ($46 billion).

The group did not specify how it would determine the price paid for second-hand furniture and customers will receive a voucher, not cash, for their products.  

As part of efforts to reduce waste, Ikea has already begun repairing and re-packaging products in every store that have been damaged in transit, as well as allowing customers to return products – including furniture – for resale or donation to charities.