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Iceland v Iceland trademark name dispute

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The Icelandic government has launched a legal challenge to Iceland Foods’ exclusive ownership of the European-wide trademark registration for the word Iceland. 

The application for registration of the trademark Iceland was made by the supermarket in 2002 but it was not until 2014 that the application was finally granted. The supermarket has in fact traded under the name of Iceland since 1970 and according to the supermarket’s founder and chief executive, Malcolm Walker, has “coexisted with the country Iceland very happily ever since.”

However, the granting of the European-wide trademark has proven to be contentious in the country of Iceland. The country is not a member of the EU but is a major exporter of frozen fish and seafood to the EU. The government claims the supermarket has “aggressively pursued” and won multiple cases against Icelandic businesses that use the word Iceland as part of their trademark “even in cases when the products and services do not compete.” The government is seeking to invalidate the registration of the trademark and has said that they are “concerned that our country’s businesses are unable to promote themselves across Europe in association with their place of origin – a place of which we are rightly proud and enjoys a very positive national branding.” 

Mr Walker has said, “We have no desire whatsoever to stand in the way of Iceland the country making use of their own name to promote their own products, so long as it does not conflict or cause confusion with our own business. I am sure there is ample scope for an agreement that will allow both parties to continue to live and work amicably alongside each other.” These comments were made in light of the supermarket’s decision to send a “high-level delegation” to Reykjavic this week in order to set out “constructive proposals” and resume “peaceful coexistence.” 

Whether relations can be thawed we will have to wait and see…

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