Posted: Fri 25th Nov 2016

Cold war of words erupts as Iceland the country launches action against Iceland the Deeside grocer

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Nov 25th, 2016

Deeside-based frozen foods specialist Iceland (operating profit 2016 c£120m) is facing a cold war battle to keep it’s identity after the government of Iceland (Gross national debt $2.8bn) mounted legal action against the grocery chain over the use of its name. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Iceland the nordic country is challenging the UK retail giant “on behalf of Iceland’s businesses and people” to their exclusive ownership of the European-wide trademark registration for the word Iceland. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The Icelandic government in a 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. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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Iceland Foods, whose headquarters are located on Deeside Industrial Park said it hadn’t received any recent approaches about an amicable resolution of the issue. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Iceland (the company) said:

“We very much regret that the government of Iceland has apparently decided to take legal action over the use of the name Iceland,” the company said. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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. We hope that the government will contact us directly so that we may address their concerns,” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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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