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Iceland vs Iceland, government vs tradermark


01.25.17 Posted in Naming blog by

One of the most unusual and recent brand battle started when Iceland’s government undertook legal actions against a British supermarket that used its name. The motivation for taking this caution is to ensure the right of Icelandic companies to use the word “Iceland” in the naming of their brands in order to highlight the origin of their goods and services.

iceland-store-namign

Some of the claims that Iceland made are that the supermarket has already won multiple cases against Icelandic businesses which use the word Iceland In their tradermark. That’s so because the supermarket that trades under the name Iceland Foods holds an Europe-wide registration for the words, and even non-competing companies are facing a ban when it comes to use “Iceland” as part of their trademark.

The country turns to the European Union Intellectual Property Office in order to invalidate the trademark registration due to its “exceptionally broad and ambiguous in definition, often rendering the country’s firms unable to describe their products as Icelandic”.

In our blog you can find a lot of interesting trademark cases, but this one is extremely interesting because it raises question how come it’s possible to register a trademark with an existing name of a country in the EU? The trademark law is clear that a mark cannot be registered if it is descriptive of the product’s origin. But on the other hand, the customers of the Iceland store don’t take the name of the store as a hint for the geographical origin of the goods they are buying. The final decisions would be an interesting one. Follow us and stay tuned.

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