The country challenged the frozen food retailer’s exclusive trademark of ‘Iceland’, on the basis the term is broad and ambiguous. It said the trademark often meant Icelandic businesses couldn’t describe their products as Icelandic.
A government of Iceland statement said: “The government along with SA Business Iceland and Promote Iceland is taking this step because Iceland Foods has aggressively pursued and won multiple cases against Icelandic companies which use ‘Iceland' in their representation, or as part of their trademark, even in cases when the products and services do not compete.
‘Caused harm to Icelandic businesses’
“The government of Iceland is 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. This untenable situation has caused harm to Icelandic businesses, especially its small and growing companies.”
The government claimed it had made “multiple efforts” to negotiate with the retailer over reaching a “fair solution and avoiding legal action”. Its attempts at a resolution were met with “unrealistic” and “unacceptable demands” by Iceland Foods, the government alleged.
Iceland Foods rejected this claim, and said it didn’t believe any public confusion had arisen over the use of its name and Iceland the country.
‘No recent approaches to achieve an amicable resolution’
An Iceland Foods statement said: “Contrary to their assertion we have received no recent approaches to achieve an amicable resolution of this issue, which would be our preferred approach.
“While we will vigorously defend Iceland Foods's established rights where there is any risk of confusion between our business and Iceland the country, we have been trading successfully for 46 years under the name Iceland and do not believe that any serious confusion or conflict has ever arisen in the public mind, or is likely to do so. We hope that the government will contact us directly so that we may address their concerns.”
The Icelandic government first claimed to be considering legal action against the retailer in September.
What they say about Iceland Foods’s trademark
- Government of Iceland said: “The government of Iceland, on behalf of Iceland's businesses and people, today announces that it has taken legal action against the UK supermarket chain Iceland Foods with the goal of ensuring the right of Icelandic companies to use the word ‘Iceland’ in relation to their goods and services.
- Iceland Foods said: “While we will vigorously defend Iceland Foods's established rights where there is any risk of confusion between our business and Iceland the country, we have been trading successfully for 46 years under the name Iceland and do not believe that any serious confusion or conflict has ever arisen in the public mind, or is likely to do so.”