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Iceland's ministry of foreign affairs mulling suit against UK's Iceland supermarket

24 September 2016

Iceland's ministry of foreign affairs has confirmed that it is considering filing a suit against a UK frozen foods giant, 45 years after its founding.

"I can confirm that this is being looked into, but no decision has been made," a spokesman for the ministry told the Press Association.

The government of Iceland explained in a statement that a group of Icelandic parties, including the government, were considering a "cancellation action" against the supermarket's Europe-wide trademark registration for the name "Iceland".

Promote Iceland, an agency linked to the Icelandic foreign ministry, stressed that it had  no intention of forcing Iceland Foods to give up its brand, but wanted to ensure that the supermarket did not prevent Icelandic firms from registering the name "Iceland" across the UK or EU.

"We are looking for a 'live and let live' outcome," Jon Asbergsson, the managing director of Promote Iceland, explained.

According to the government, the chain had launched and won "multiple cases" against Icelandic companies for using the word Iceland, even in cases when the products and services were not in competition.

"Any decision about proceeding with this claim will only be made after full consideration of the interests of Icelandic companies and our people," the government added.

''The concern is that Iceland Foods has received an EU trademark with the EU intellectual trademark office of the word 'Iceland' so (it's) not just their logo but the name of our country,'' Business Iceland lawyer Bergthora Halldorsdottir told German news agency, DPA.

''Our concerns are that Icelandic companies or products made by Icelandic companies won't be able to describe themselves using their place of origin as a reference,'' she added.

''One of the options would be to file a cancellation action with the European Union intellectual property office'' and request that ''the registration of the word 'Iceland' by Iceland Foods be cancelled''.

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