The relationship between Iceland, the country and Iceland, the company, has grown chilly over a trademark dispute over the company’s European trademark “Iceland.”

The Icelandic government are now launching legal action against Iceland Foods and seeking to invalidate the trademark, claiming that it “defies logic” to allow a private company to bear the trademark for a nation, especially one that enjoys such proud national branding. They claim that the use of the company’s trademark has frozen opportunities for the nation’s firms to describe their products as Icelandic.

The legal action has led to the company sending a delegation to Rekjavik on Friday the 2nd of December to discuss possible compromises. However no agreement was reached and Malcolm Walker, Chief Executive and Founder of the company has stated that the Icelandic government “is not willing to hold any serious discussion.”

Walker claims that “they have no idea why this has suddenly become such a major problem for Iceland (the country).”

“Iceland Foods had Icelandic majority shareholders and Icelandic representatives on its board for seven years to 2012. At no point in all those years did any representative of Iceland (the country) raise the slightest concern about our company’s branding,” he said.

Nonetheless numerous Icelandic companies have failed to register their names due to the protection afforded by the “Iceland” trademark registered in 2014. These include Iceland Gold, an Icelandic fish company and Clean Iceland, a specialist seller of Icelandic national products. Iceland Foods has insisted that it has only tried to prevent other companies from using the name Iceland where it would lead to confusion over the brand.

However, the relationship with the Icelandic government turned cold when the chain blocked an attempt to register “Inspired by Iceland” not realising the application had been lodged by Icelandic government ministers. Iceland Foods has since said that had it known the source of the attempt, it would have been “very happy to have a conversation with them to explore ways in which their desire to promote Icelandic products could co-exist with our established rights as owners of the Iceland brand.”

Despite not reaching an agreement in Rekjavik, Iceland Foods remains hopeful an amicable arrangement could still be reached.

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Jonathan Craddock

Client Partner

Jonathan graduated in LLB law from the University of the West of England in 2012. He then completed the Legal Practice Course in 2013 before working with some of Southampton’s top law firms.

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