The retailer has urged the Icelandic government to reconsider its decision to press ahead with legal action over use of the word ‘Iceland’. Legal action would be expensive for both parties, and take up a lot of time, Iceland Foods claimed.
Iceland Foods ceo Malcolm Walker urged the Icelandic government “to talk to us to achieve the sensible coexistence agreement, which I am sure is well within reach, and very much in the best interest of all parties”.
He said: “We very much regret that the Icelandic government was not willing to hold any serious discussion with us on ways in which we might co-operate to our mutual benefit.
‘No interest in reaching a compromise’
“[The talks] got nowhere because it rapidly became clear that the Icelandic authorities have no interest in reaching a compromise.”
The legal action would proceed after the retailer’s proposals didn’t reach the government’s expectations, it said.
An Icelandic government statement said: “At the meeting, Iceland Foods stated that it refused to relinquish exclusive control of the word ‘Iceland’ and presented proposals that fell short of Iceland's expectations.
“This issue is a matter of principle, with important global implications for trade in goods and services and Icelandic authorities will bring it up at the relevant international level.”
‘A matter of principle’
The ‘Iceland’ trademark blocked Icelandic companies from registering their products with their country of origin, the government claimed. It said the retailer had “aggressively pursued” multiple cases against Icelandic companies using ‘Iceland’ in their branding.
Iceland Foods claimed this allegation was “nonsensical”. All it had ever done – and will do – was to prevent other food and retail companies from using ‘Iceland’ in their branding which could cause confusion with their own brand, the retailer said.
Meanwhile, the government launched legal action after Iceland Foods blocked Islandsstofa – an Icelandic export firm – using the slogan ‘Inspired in Iceland’ to cover its food and drink products.
Islandsstofa had first used the slogan in 2011, and Iceland Foods hadn’t opposed it because it didn’t cover goods which conflicted with their own.
Iceland vs Iceland – at a glance
- December 4 – Iceland Foods claimed government had “no interest in reaching compromise”
- December 2 – Dispute talks failed to resolve after government said retailer’s proposals fell short of expectations
- November 29 – Iceland Foods delegation flew to Reykjavik to lay out “constructive proposals”
- November 24 – Icelandic government announced legal action