Welsh supermarket Iceland’s legal challenge to namesake country to use name
Welsh supermarket chain Iceland is taking its namesake, the country of Iceland, to court again, part of a long-running battle to trademark the name.
Deeside-based Iceland Foods, was founded in 1970 in Oswestry, Shropshire, and has fought for years to trademark the name used by the north Atlantic island, which according to the Sagas Iceland was established some 11 centuries previously.
The government of Iceland has claimed the trademark battle by the chain would stop the country’s businesses from describing their products as Icelandic.
In 2016, the frozen food chain, which once had an advertising campaign featuring singer Kerry Katona, received registration of the brand Iceland at the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
Iceland the country, famed for its stunning vistas and songstress Bjork, then won a ruling in 2019 that invalidated that trademark exclusivity.
Now the two Icelands will fight it out once again after the Deeside chain appealed the 2019 decision.
The case has been taken to the Grand Board of the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
“It would mean that Icelandic companies could possibly not use the word Iceland in their trademarks to designate the products they’re selling,’ Margrét Hjálmarsdóttir, an attorney at the Icelandic Intellectual Property Office told Icelandic broadcaster RUV.
EUIPO board members are unlikely to decide until next year.
Iceland Foods’ managing director Richard Walker has said the supermarket will “vigorously defend” its intellectual property rights, Grocery Gazette has reported.
Richard Walker has said: “We have traded successfully under our name in the UK since 1970, and today it is one of the UK’s most recognised brands.”
“We had sincerely hoped that we would be able to avoid last week’s hearing and reach an amicable agreement.”
Iceland Foods first applied to the EU to trademark the ‘Iceland’ name in 2002 when it was owned by Icelandic retail group Baugur, up until the 2008 financial crash.
Founder of Iceland Foods Malcolm Walker, took back control in 2014 and two years later, the EUIPO finally granted the company’s trademark request.
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