Trademarks : Iceland v. Iceland : The battle for exclusivity
Iceland (the country ) is a leading exporter of frozen fish and seafood to several countries in the EU. Recently, native companies like ‘Clean Iceland’ and ‘Iceland Gold’ have faced trouble in marketing their products due to confusion over the name which clashes with ‘Iceland Foods’ – a renowned frozen food supermarket chain that has subsisted since the 70’s.
‘Iceland Foods’ for several years used to be under the control of Icelandic investors and later Icelandic banks. As the spokesperson for the retailer said, “the relationship came to an end with a £1.5bn buyout of the company in 2012, but Iceland the company has continued to have a good relationship with Iceland ,the country through the ownership of three Iceland stores there, export sales of Iceland products to other retailers throughout the country, and sponsorship of the Icelandic national team in this year’s European football championships.”
‘Iceland Foods’ is currently a UK-based but South African owned supermarket chain.
The Icelandic government has begun legal proceedings to ensure that the trademark of ‘Iceland’- that is exclusively owned by the supermarket chain is cancelled. These steps have been taken primarily to protect native companies that are unable to promote themselves abroad in association with their place of origin, as is their right, for it is a place that they are rightly proud of and which enjoys a positive national branding.
The supermarket’s founder and chief executive, Malcolm Walker, said: “A high-level delegation from Iceland Foods is preparing to fly to Reykjavik this week to begin negotiations, and we very much hope for a positive response and an early resolution of this issue.”
The negotiations are hoped by both sides to bring an end an issue that has the potential to erupt into a long-term battle. According to Iceland Foods, they have no desire to stand in the way of a country that is making use of their own name to promote their goods as long as it does not conflict with the long standing business that the supermarket chain had established over the years.
The Icelandic government has also been clear on its stance and it does not intend to force the supermarket to register a new name, it is only seeking to end the company’s right to assert the Iceland trademark to block native companies from using “Iceland.”
Authored By- Priyanka Ashok