Iceland wants its name back as it takes on British supermarket chain

The country isn't happy that its businesses are being blocked from promoting goods and services abroad.

Iceland wants its name back as it takes on British supermarket chain

Picture by Matt Dunham AP/Press Association Images

It's a case of Iceland vs. Iceland as the Nordic island nation launches a legal action against the British supermarket chain of the same name.

The Icelandic government is challenging the exclusive ownership Iceland Foods has of the European-wide trademark registration for the word "Iceland", the Irish Times reports.

The country is arguing that the food company's claim on it is preventing Icelandic companies from promoting goods and services abroad.

Iceland's ministry for foreign affairs has made the case that Iceland Foods had "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."

The statement added:

"The Icelandic government’s legal challenge at the European Union Intellectual Property Office seeks to invalidate this exclusive registration on the basis that the term ‘Iceland’ is exceptionally broad and ambiguous in definition, often rendering the country’s firms unable to describe their products as Icelandic."

According to the ministry, Iceland has attempted to negotiate with the chain several times but its efforts have been met with "unrealistic and unacceptable demands by the supermarket chain leaving Iceland with no choice but to proceed with a legal resolution to the situation."

Iceland Foods has responded:

"We very much regret that the government of Iceland has apparently decided to take legal action over the use of the name Iceland.

"While we will vigorously defend Iceland Foods' established rights where there is any risk of confusion between our business and Iceland the country, we have been trading successfully for 46 years under the name Iceland and do not believe that any serious confusion or conflict has ever arisen in the public mind, or is likely to do so. We hope that the government will contact us directly so that we may address their concerns."