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Cold Reception for Iceland in Iceland

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Cold Reception for Iceland in Iceland

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No thaw in sight. Photo: Þorsteinn Þorsteinsson/Icelandic Met Office/Facebook

Representatives of Icelandic authorities, SA – Business Iceland and Promote Iceland met with their counterparts from Iceland Foods in Iceland Friday to discuss the registration of the trademark Iceland in the European Union.

The Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs has launched legal action against the supermarket chain in an attempt to have the chain’s exclusive right to use the name Iceland as a trademark within the European Union revoked.

At the meeting, Iceland Foods rejected demands made by the country Iceland to deregister the word Iceland at the European Union Intellectual Property Office and introduced ideas which failed to meet Icelandic authorities’ expectations, according to a press release from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Therefore, legal action against the supermarket will continue.

Icelandic authorities believe the dispute revolves around a principle. It is inacceptable, they argue, for a private firm to hold the exclusive right to the word Iceland as a trademark in all countries within the EU, since it prevents Icelandic companies or institutions from registering their products with referral to the country of origin.

The case has international implications for its effect on trade and services, and it will be addressed by Icelandic authorities on an international platform.

Iceland Foods CEO Malcolm Walker stated after the meeting on Friday that Icelandic authorities were unwilling to do anything to reach a compromise in the dispute. He admitted it was a mistake by the supermarket to fight to stop the ad campaign of Inspired by Iceland, which was intended to introduce Iceland as an exciting tourist destination.

The CEO has trouble understanding why the trademark has suddenly become problematic for Icelanders and wonders why nothing was done about the matter during the seven years the company was owned by Icelanders, or until 2012.

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