Posted: Tue 29th Nov 2016

Bosses from Deeside based Iceland food ready to head to Reykjavik and begin talks over use of name.

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Nov 29th, 2016

Deeside-based retailer Iceland has said they are urgently seeking a meeting with the Foreign Ministry of Iceland (the country)

The move follows legal action instigated against the company last week by the country over the use of the name Iceland.

The retailer wants to lay out constructive proposals for the ‘resumption of the peaceful coexistence’ between the company and country that had prevailed for the previous 46 years.

The food giant is facing a cold war battle to keep it’s identity after the government of Iceland mounted legal action against the retailer over use of the name.

Iceland the country say they are challenging the Deeside headquartered company “on behalf of Iceland’s businesses and people” to their exclusive ownership of the European-wide trademark registration for the word Iceland.

In a statement Iceland, the company says:

“Following the regrettable outbreak of legal and verbal hostilities last week, the UK retailer Iceland Foods is urgently seeking a meeting with the Foreign Ministry of Iceland to lay out constructive proposals for resumption of the peaceful coexistence between the company and country that had prevailed for the previous 46 years.

Iceland Foods did not simply take its name from the Nordic nation, but has a long history of close and friendly involvement with Iceland the country. Indeed for seven years from 2005 Iceland Foods was under the control of Icelandic investors, and later Icelandic banks.”

This relationship between the two parties came end with the £1.5 billion management buyout of the company in 2012, but Iceland (the company) has continued to have a warm relationship with Iceland (the country) through the ownership of three Iceland stores there, export sales of Iceland products to other retailers throughout the country, and sponsorship of the Icelandic national team in this year’s European football championships.

The closeness and friendliness of relations was underlined when Iceland CEO Malcolm Walker welcomed then Icelandic Prime Minister Halldor Asgrimsson on an official visit to Iceland’s Fulham Road store in London in 2006.

Iceland Founder & CEO Malcolm Walker said:

“We registered Iceland as our company name in 1970 and we have coexisted with the country called Iceland very happily ever since. They have made no contact with us to raise any concerns about trade mark issues since 2012.

“We have no desire whatsoever to stand in the way of Iceland (the country) making use of their own name to promote their own products, so long as it does not conflict or cause confusion with our own business. I am sure that there is ample scope for an agreement that will allow both parties to continue to live and work amicably alongside each other.

“A high level delegation from Iceland (the company) is preparing to fly to Reykjavik this week to begin negotiations, and we very much hope for a positive response and an early resolution of this issue.”

The Icelandic government in a statement last week 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.

A Europe-wide trademark registration for the word mark ‘“ICELAND’ is held by Iceland Foods, a UK company.

The Icelandic Government’s legal challenge at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EU-IPO) seeks to invalidate this exclusive registration on the basis that the term ‘ICELAND’ is exceptionally broad and ambiguous in definition, often rendering the country’s firms unable to describe their products as Icelandic.”

Untenable

The Government of Iceland said it is concerned that the 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.”

The situation has now become ‘untenable’ they and has caused harm to Icelandic businesses, especially its small and growing companies.

“Over the past years Iceland has made multiple efforts to negotiate with Iceland Foods with the hope of reaching a fair solution and avoiding legal action. These conciliatory efforts have unfortunately been met with unrealistic and unacceptable demands by the supermarket chain leaving Iceland with no choice but to proceed with a legal resolution to the situation.” the Icelandic ministry for foreign affairs statement says.

Iceland Foods has more than 800 stores across the UK, it employs more than 23,000 staff.

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