Iceland Foods hits back at Icelandic government over trademark
4 December 2016
- From the section Business
The supermarket Iceland claims that the Icelandic government is “not willing to hold any serious discussion” to reach agreement in a trademark dispute.
The country has launched legal action against the chain, claiming it prevents the nation’s firms from describing their products as Icelandic.
Iceland Foods owns the European trademark for using the name Iceland.
The company sent a delegation to the capital Reykjavik 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,” said founder and chief executive Malcolm Walker.
“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,” he said.
On Friday, Iceland’s foreign ministry said the company refused to relinquish exclusive control of the word Iceland and that it would therefore pursue 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.
But the company, which employs 23,000 people, said it had only ever tried to prevent other food and retail companies using the name Iceland, when it could lead to confusion over the brand.
It acknowledged that it had blocked an attempt to register “Inspired by Iceland”, but it had not known it came from the Icelandic government.
Had the supermarket 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.
Iceland Foods added that it still hoped an amicable arrangement could be reached.
The store was set up in Shropshire in 1970 and the name was suggested by Mr Walker’s wife, Rhianydd.
It has almost 900 stores in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Czech Republic and Iceland (the country).
This post was written by FSB News