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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 8/11/2005 1:46:57 PM EDT


www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,68492,00.html#

Furniture Causes FedEx Fits
By Kristen Philipkoski

02:00 AM Aug. 11, 2005 PT

Most of us have been there. You can just barely afford to pay the rent. But forget about buying furniture -- not if you want to eat, anyway.

Jose Avila recently found himself in just that predicament. Although he has a good job as a software developer, he's locked into two rents after moving to Arizona, and has no extra cash for an Ikea shopping spree. But instead of scouting street corners for a ratty, unwanted couch, Avila got creative and built an apartment full of surprisingly sturdy furniture -- out of FedEx shipping boxes.

Fanciful as his creations may seem, FedEx is not amused. The shipping giant's lawyers have sent Avila letters demanding he take down the site he created to document his project, invoking, among other things, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (.pdf), or DMCA.

Avila has outfitted his entire apartment with FedEx box designs, including a bed, a corner desk with wall shelves, a table, two chairs and a couch. Drawing from architecture and drafting classes he took in college, Avila has designed pieces that are surprisingly un-boxy.

He was blindsided by the cease-and-desist letter from the company to which he proclaims long-standing loyalty.

"I was surprised, actually," Avila said. "One thing I’ve always stood behind is I'm pro-FedEx. I ship stuff with FedEx all that time and I feel more comfortable shipping with FedEx because their boxes are stable and sturdy."

And that translates to strong furniture, Avila said. The bed can handle his 5-foot-6-inch, 165-pound frame, even when he jumps up and down on it (an experiment he tried in response to an e-mail asking if the bed could support two people).

Avila said he never intended to make money from the site, or to exploit FedEx in any way. He said he simply wanted to spread the word that "it's OK to be ghetto."

"That's pretty much the motto of the site," he said. "When you're stuck in a bind and you're feeling down, it's not the end of the world."

But that feel-good message seems to be lost on FedEx. The company claims that Avila is infringing on its trademark and its copyright. The day after Avila launched the site in June, FedEx asked him to take it down, claiming he had violated the DMCA.

Lawyers at the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society, who are representing Avila, argued the company's claims don't relate to copyright and therefore the DMCA doesn't apply. Rather, the claims refer to trademark infringement and conversion. After talking with his lawyers, Avila put the site back up.

"DMCA only applies to copyrighted works, and they were basically making trademark-related claims, so it was completely outrageous," said Lauren Gelman, associate director of the Stanford center. "This is just an example of how lawyers take advantage of copyright laws to use protecting provisions like those in the DMCA to take down stuff they just don't like."

A FedEx representative did not respond to questions about the claims and whether the company planned to take legal action against Avila.

In a letter (.pdf) sent Aug. 3 to Jennifer Granick, director of the Stanford center and Avila's lawyer, FedEx also claims Avila violated fedex.com's terms of use, which state that "fedex.com is provided solely for the use of current and potential FedEx customers to interact with FedEx and may not be used by any other person or entity, or for any other purpose.”

In her response to FedEx (.pdf), Granick took issue with that argument.

"Frankly, it's the most interesting of the legal claims," Gelman said. "But in this case I see nothing in the terms of service that would prevent (making furniture from FedEx boxes and displaying them on a website)."

FedEx also said in the Aug. 3 letter that Avila clearly intended to operate a business from his website because he used the .com domain suffix, the "commercial level domain," rather than .net.

"There is absolutely no rule, regulation or law that says that," Gelman replied.
Link Posted: 8/11/2005 1:48:19 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/11/2005 1:48:36 PM EDT
Why sue? Seem to me like a good advertisement. Fed Ex's boxes are so strong people can make furniture out of 'em....imagine how well they will protect your packages!
Link Posted: 8/11/2005 1:52:09 PM EDT

He said he simply wanted to spread the word that "it's OK to be ghetto."


has he not been reading the news? most people seem to think "ghetto" is "neat-o"
Link Posted: 8/11/2005 1:52:52 PM EDT
blank stare
Link Posted: 8/11/2005 1:53:23 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/11/2005 1:54:06 PM EDT by skid2964]
That sure is some bright pink hair ........
Link Posted: 8/11/2005 1:53:56 PM EDT
Wow. They picked up on this the day after he put up the website?

Not that I would build any of that... but its still pretty ingenious.


Why would they even care? It does nothing to hurt their name and gives them free publicity. Trademark infringement???
Would that be like me posting a recipe for a cake on the internet and specifying a certain brand of flour to be used?
Link Posted: 8/11/2005 1:54:09 PM EDT
UPS should use this for a PR stunt and buy the guy some furniture.
Link Posted: 8/11/2005 1:58:39 PM EDT

Originally Posted By photokirk:
UPS should use this for a PR stunt and buy the guy some furniture.



That's brilliant.
Link Posted: 8/11/2005 1:58:48 PM EDT
Perhaps he should quit doing mail order and use the money he would save to buy some furniture.
Link Posted: 8/11/2005 2:02:41 PM EDT
Talk about living in a card board box. LOL. Give the homeless some ideas for their boxes. lol
Link Posted: 8/11/2005 2:04:47 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ghengiskhabb:
Perhaps he should quit doing mail order and use the money he would save to buy some furniture.



Sounds more like the guy is trying to make some sort of "artistic" statement.
Link Posted: 8/11/2005 2:10:50 PM EDT
It's their trademark.

You can already see what will happen if FedEx doesn't do something about it. Someone will build a chair out of boxes, it will break, and they will sue FedEx for it because they have deep pockets. You should already see it coming.

Link Posted: 8/11/2005 2:18:21 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/11/2005 2:19:47 PM EDT

Originally Posted By LoginName:

Originally Posted By ghengiskhabb:
Perhaps he should quit doing mail order and use the money he would save to buy some furniture.



Sounds more like the guy is trying to make some sort of "artistic" statement.



Looking at his hair, that would make sense.
Link Posted: 8/11/2005 2:20:34 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/11/2005 2:23:56 PM EDT
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