Frozen grocery retailer Iceland has been legally challenged by its namesake island nation.
In a bid to prevent the retailer from using the name, Iceland‘s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has brought its case to the European Union Intellectual Property Office.
They state that the retailer has “aggressively pursued” any produce from the country that uses its name to brand its good.
The grocer has a Europe-wide trademark for the name, which means that any items using their country of origin’s name as a branding tool are breaking the law.
The government say this is an “exceptionally broad and ambiguous definition” and that it has effectively left the country unable to describe its products as Icelandic.
A spokesperson from the retailer said: “We hope that the government will contact us directly so that we may address their concerns.”
Nick Lewis, a commercial disputes lawyer Capital Law commented: “The mark is not limited to just food and drinks. It covers a variety of different classes including machines, refrigeration apparatus, paper and cardboard.
“The Icelandic government‘s argument is that Icelandic companies should be able to utilise the country‘s name. However Iceland Foods has aggressively pursued companies attempting to do this.
“It is difficult to see how this application will be successful. Iceland Foods has traded under the name ‘Iceland‘ for in excess for 40 years and is an established brand. It is doubtful that there would be an element of confusion on the part of consumers, or potential consumers, when purchasing products from its stores.”