Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Icy trademark dispute between Iceland Foods & Iceland worsens

107

The relationship between Iceland the grocer and the country of the same name remains as icy as ever as the trademark dispute between the two worsens.

The supermarket chain said the Icelandic government was “not willing to hold any serious discussion” to reach an agreement, just weeks after the country launched legal action against the frozen food grocer.

Iceland Foods owns the European trademark for using the name Iceland, but the country argues that it prevents its companies from describing their products as Icelandic.

Iceland Foods sent a delegation to Reykjavik, the Icelandic capital, on Friday but no agreement was reached.

“[The talks] got nowhere because it rapidly became clear that the Icelandic authorities have no interest in reaching a compromise,” Iceland Foods chief executive Malcolm Walker said.

“We have no real 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.


READ MORE: Iceland sends “high-level delegation” to sort legal dispute


Iceland’s foreign ministry said the company would not relinquish exclusive control of the word Iceland, which is why it was pursuing legal action to invalidate the company’s trademark.

“The registration of a country name that enjoys highly positive national branding to a private company defies logic and is untenable,” the ministry said.

However, Iceland Foods said in a statement that it has only ever tried to prevent other food and retail companies using the name, when it could lead to confusion over the brand.

It added that it had blocked an attempt to register “Inspired by Iceland”, but it had not known it came from the Icelandic government.

Iceland Foods said that had they known, 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,” the statement said.

Nonetheless, the grocery chain hoped an arrangement could be reached with the country.

Iceland Foods employs 23,000 people and has 900 stores in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Czech Republic and Iceland itself.#

Click here to sign up to Retail Gazette’s free daily email newsletter