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Iceland vs. Iceland

A lawsuit could be filed to demand that the British supermarket chain Iceland relinquish its use of the brand name Iceland within the European Union, Vísir reports.

According to Fréttablaðið, Promote Iceland, the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs and SA – Business Iceland are all considering making such a demand with the cooperation of the patent attorneys of Árnason faktor.

A few years ago, filing such a lawsuit was first discussed, but the next steps will be decided at a meeting on September 28.

Promote Iceland has a registered trademark, Inspired by Iceland, abroad. Problems have arisen when that trademark, as well as others from Icelandic producers, has been registered for product categories for which the supermarket Iceland is also registered. In such cases the supermarket Iceland has protested.

Icelandic producers resent the fact that while the supermarket tries to exclude them from using the word Iceland as their trademark, the supermarket Iceland greatly benefits from positive media coverage of Iceland, the country, such as during the Icelandic men’s national football team’s widely-covered success at the EURO 2016 in France in the summer.

Bergþóra Halldórsdóttir, a lawyer for SA – Business, stated, “the complaint is not about the British supermarket chain having named its stores after our country, but what we find unfortunate is that Iceland Foods has not only registered its logo, but the word Iceland itself.” She believes there is reason to worry that such registration limits the right of others to use the work Iceland in their trademarks.

More than 11 years have passed since MP Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, from the Left-Green Movement, first alerted Alþingi to the fact that the supermarket had made the country’s name its trademark and asked how the government planned to respond.

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