(AFP) – Iceland said Thursday it has filed a lawsuit against a Britain-based supermarket chain called Iceland Foods to ensure that companies in the Nordic nation can use the country’s name.
“Iceland Foods has aggressively pursued and won multiple cases against Icelandic companies which use ‘ICELAND’ in their representation or as part of their trademark, even in cases when the products and services do not compete,” its foreign ministry said in a statement.
The Nordic country has taken the case to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EU-IPO) in a bid to reverse the UK company’s exclusive Europe-wide trademark registration for the word mark “Iceland”.
The island nation deems the word mark “exceptionally broad and ambiguous in definition, often rendering the country’s firms unable to describe their products as Icelandic.”
Based in Wales, Iceland Foods was not immediately available for comment but was cited by the British press in September as saying: “We are not aware that our use of the Iceland name has ever caused any confusion with Iceland the country.”
Recovering from the financial crisis of 2008, which caused Iceland’s banking system to collapse, the nation is concerned its companies “are unable to promote themselves across Europe in association with their place of origin.”
“This untenable situation has caused harm to Icelandic businesses, especially its small and growing companies,” the Icelandic foreign ministry said.
“A company or product made in Iceland or by an Icelandic company should be able to represent itself using the name of the country,” it added.
Iceland said it has tried to reach an agreement with Iceland Foods without any success, prompting the country to take legal action.
The announcement came a day after Iceland’s Left-Green movement on Wednesday said it had failed in its bid to form a new coalition government, three weeks after snap elections triggered by the Panama Papers scandal.