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Legal action over the use of the word ‘Iceland'

24.11.2016

The Government of Iceland, on behalf of Iceland's businesses and people, today announces that it has taken legal action against the UK supermarket chain Iceland Foods with the goal of ensuring the right of Icelandic companies to use the word ‘ICELAND' in relation to their goods and services.

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.

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.

This untenable situation has caused harm to Icelandic businesses, especially its small and growing companies. A company or product made in Iceland or by an Icelandic company should be able to represent itself using the name of the country.

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.

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