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Iceland v Iceland - what's in a name?

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The supermarket Iceland is in a high profile dispute over name rights with the Icelandic government, mounted a legal challenge against the retailer at the European Union Intellectual Property Office.

The Icelandic government aims to ''ensure the right of Icelandic companies to use the word 'Iceland' in relation to their goods and services''.

The company applied to register Iceland as a name in 2002 and it was finally registered in 2014, and after decades of co-existing peacefully, it is hoped that there is plenty of scope for an amicable agreement. But Reykjavik says the supermarket has aggressively pursued and won several cases against Icelandic companies which use the word Iceland as part of their trademark, even where the products / services do not compete. It called the situation "untenable".

Sarah Sillar, a solicitor in our Commercial Team, deals with trademark applications and advises companies on their intellectual property. She comments on the situation in this case, saying “Iceland, the supermarket, has a Europe-wide trademark registration for the word Iceland. Iceland, the country, are aiming to invalidate this. Currently there are restrictions in place to prevent people from registering flags, national emblems and also trademarks which describe the goods sold but not specifically for country names. The trade mark application process enables an application to be opposed prior to registration but it is much harder to invalidate a trade mark once granted.”

Our Commercial Team, based in Christchurch, also cover Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest. If you have any questions, you only have to ask us at Frettens. Please call 01202 499255 and Sarah or her team, will be happy to discuss your intellectual property situation.