Iceland v Iceland: Retailer seeks thaw over name dispute

Supermarket Iceland is sending a “high-level delegation” to Reykjavik as it seeks to thaw relations with the Nordic nation amid a dispute over name rights. The Icelandic government has mounted a legal challenge against the retailer at the European Union Intellectual Property Office with the goal of “ensuring the right of Icelandic companies to use the word ‘Iceland’ in relation to their goods and services”. Iceland Foods is sending its team this week, hoping to meet with officials at the country’s foreign ministry to lay out “constructive proposals” and resume “peaceful coexistence”.

We very much hope for a positive response and an early resolution of this issue.

The supermarket’s founder and chief Malcolm Walker

The company registered Iceland as a name in 197, and Mr Walker said that after decades of peaceful coexistence he was certain there would be “ample scope for an agreement”. But Reykjavik says the supermarket has “aggressively pursued” and won multiple cases against Icelandic companies that use the word Iceland as part of their trademark, “even in cases when the products and services do not compete”. It called the situation “untenable”, and is seeking to invalidate a Europe-wide trademark registration for the word Iceland held by the supermarket.

The government of Iceland is concerned that our 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.

Government of Iceland