Iceland vs Iceland Trademark Spat More Clear: Iceland Foods Opposed Iceland's Trademark Application

from the ice-ice-baby dept

We recently wrote about the strange situation going on between a British company, Iceland Foods, and the nation of Iceland. What was clear was that this spat was over the trademark on the word “Iceland” held by the grocer, which had been ridiculously granted to cover all of Europe by the EU. Iceland had initiated a petition to have that trademark revoked, prompting the company to send a delegation to Reykjavik in an attempt to work something out that would allow the company to retain its control of a trademark consisting of the name of a member of the European Economic Area. It seems that this meeting did not go as well as Iceland Foods had hoped.

“[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).”

Which isn’t exactly true, as almost in the same breath the company has acknowledged that it attempted to block an extremely benign trademark registration by the goverment of Iceland. The country had registered “Inspired by Iceland” as a trademark, only to have it blocked by Iceland Foods. The company claims it wasn’t aware that Iceland’s government had been behind the application it blocked, which is both difficult to believe and entirely besides the point.

That point being that the trademark the company holds is absurd in the first place, both because it is overly broad as well as consisting entirely of the name of a geographic location. And the negotiations between the company and the country, in which the company attempted to paint Iceland’s government as unwilling to compromise, apparently saw Iceland Foods unwilling to budge.

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.

It’s hard to imagine how the trademark survives Iceland’s petition. Iceland Foods still says it hopes it can reach an agreement with the country, though why the country would want to negotiate at all is entirely beyond me.

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Companies: iceland

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Comments on “Iceland vs Iceland Trademark Spat More Clear: Iceland Foods Opposed Iceland's Trademark Application”

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Alphonse Tomato (profile) says:

misleading name

The climate of Iceland isn’t actually all that frozen (an overall average of about 5C). The company should find a new name, I suggest "Yakutsk Foods", after the Russian city whose mean temperature is about -10C, that is to say, definitely frozen (they have never reported a temperature above freezing between 10 November and 14 March).

Rapnel (profile) says:

I’m thinking the gov should foster an Icelandic Foods program to spread interest in the foods of Iceland. A sort of co-op that fosters pride and shares yum-yums with the rest of the world, except not in the EU, of course. Imagine that.. an Iceland Foods market with product on the shelves stamped Official Product of Iceland. Ick. I’m already confused. Iceland’s simply going to need a name change. The one they have now simply won’t work.

Anonymous Coward says:

As someone living far away from the UK and the markets Iceland Foods serves, I can testify that the brand name virtually never comes up. With the possible exceptions of those exceptionally moronic at geography, the word Iceland will always make one think of the country. So, mentioning “Iceland Foods” here would simply make one think of foodstuffs from Iceland, not even an actual brand/company.

How could they have the hubris to claim that “the Icelandic authorities have no interest in reaching a compromise” all the while opposing the nation’s trademark application? And they’re not even based there. At least American Airlines, Deutsche Telekom, etc are actually based in their respective countries.

If I’m not mistaken, if someone registered a domain name by misappropriating your name, you could approach the WIPO to dispute it and possibly get the domain in question handed over to you. I have mixed feelings about the process, but wouldn’t this make sense in this case, since Iceland Foods has proven their lack of “interest in reaching a compromise”?

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