Iceland (the country) has grown weary of this arrangement, and on Friday took legal action against Iceland (the retailer), saying its enforcement of a trademark has prevented local firms from marketing their products using the name.
The supermarket chain, which specializes in frozen foods, has had the exclusive right to use the name Iceland as a trademark within the European Union, according to a decision made by the European Union Intellectual Property Office. Icelandic authorities are demanding that this exclusive right is revoked, because of how extensive it is and because it prevents Icelandic businesses from referring to their products’ country of origin.
“While we will vigorously defend Iceland Foods’ 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,”
-the company said in a statement.
The dispute heated up last year when Iceland Foods objected to the trademark “Inspired by Iceland” being used for a range of products like meat, eggs, coffee and grains. The trademark was registered by an entity called Islandsstofa that Iceland Foods initially assumed was a commercial outfit but recently discovered was the Icelandic government.
“Had we known that the Icelandic government was behind it, we could have had a conversation—a conversation which we’d still be delighted to have,”
-the company spokesman said.
Icelandic companies, the government statement said, aren’t able 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.”