The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has ruled that UK-based supermarket chain Iceland Foods Ltd. may not register a trademark on the word “Iceland” within the European Union, Kjarninn reports.
The supermarket chain secured a EU-wide trademark for the word “Iceland” in 2014, which Icelandic authorities sued to have invalidated on the basis of being far too broad and creating a monopoly that prevented Icelandic companies from registering their products with reference to their country of origin. Moreover, said the Icelandic government, “Iceland” is widely received as a geographical name and should have never been approved for trademark in the first place.
Now, years later, EUIPO has ruled in favour of Iceland – the country – and invalidated the supermarket’s trademark entirely, noting that “It has been adequately shown that consumers in EU countries know that Iceland is a country in Europe and also that the country has historical and economic ties to EU countries, in addition to geographic proximity.”
Foreign Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson said he welcomed the ruling, but was not surprised by it. “…[I]t defies common sense that a foreign company can stake a claim to the name of a sovereign nation as was done [in this case],” he remarked. “What we’re talking about here is a milestone victory in a matter of real importance for Icelandic exporters. Our country is known for its purity and its sustainability, hence the value of indicating the origin of Icelandic products.”
Iceland Foods Ltd. has two months to appeal the ruling.