26 September 2016Trademarks

Iceland v Iceland: trademark dispute possible amid frosty relations

Iceland, the country, may bring a legal battle against the British supermarket of the same name.

Officials from the country have confirmed that a potential trademark objection is being looked into, but no decisions have been made yet, according to the BBC.

The frozen food supermarket owns the European Union trademark for ‘Iceland’ in classes 7, 11, 16, 29, 30, 31, 32 and 35.

“Iceland Foods has traded under the Iceland name in the UK since 1970, and is today one of the UK’s most recognised brands,” said a spokesperson for the supermarket.

It added that the retailer has traded as Iceland for many years in other EU countries as well as non-EU countries, including Iceland.

“We are not aware that our use of the Iceland name has ever caused any confusion with Iceland the country,” said the spokesperson.

According to the BBC, Jon Asbergsson, head of the trade and tourism body, Promote Iceland, explained that no objections have so far been made as Iceland (the country) had not been planning to own any supermarkets.

“But over the course of the years they [Iceland the supermarket] have been registering the name in several other categories,” he said, adding that the retailer has been objecting to other companies that have Iceland in their name or logo.

A spokesperson for the Icelandic government told WIPR that Iceland Foods has pursued and won multiple cases against Icelandic companies seeking to describe themselves using the word Iceland, even where the products and services do not compete.

"It seems reasonable that a company or product made in Iceland or by an Icelandic company would be able to describe itself using the name of the country," said the spokesperson.

They added: "Any decision about proceeding with this claim will only be made after full consideration of the interests of Icelandic companies and our people."

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More on this story

25 November 2016   The government of Iceland has launched a legal battle against the British supermarket of the same name.
29 November 2016   British supermarket Iceland Foods is “urgently” seeking a meeting with the Icelandic government after the country launched a legal battle against the chain.