Belfast Telegraph

Icelandic government considering lawsuit against supermarket Iceland over name

A cold war is in the offing after the Icelandic government confirmed that it is considering launching a lawsuit against British supermarket Iceland over its name.

Iceland's ministry of foreign affairs confirmed that it is mulling filing a suit against the frozen foods giant, 45 years after it was founded.

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

A statement from the Government of Iceland explained that a group of Icelandic parties, including the government, are looking at filing 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 has no intention of forcing Iceland Foods to give up its brand, but wants to ensure that the supermarket does 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.

The government said the chain has launched and won "multiple cases" against Icelandic companies for using the word, " even in cases when the products and services do not compete".

"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.

A spokesman for Iceland said: "Iceland Foods has traded under the Iceland name in the UK since 1970, and is today one of the UK's most recognised brands.

"We have also traded as Iceland for many years in other EU countries, and in non-EU countries, including Iceland itself.

"We are not aware that our use of the Iceland name has ever caused any confusion with Iceland the country."

The relationship between the supermarket and the Nordic nation has a history of frostiness.

Icelandic retail conglomerate Baugur held a controlling stake in the grocer until its collapse in 2009.

The stake then fell into the hands of Icelandic banks Landsbanki and Glitnir, which was later acquired as part of a management buyout led by founder and chief executive Malcolm Walker.

The company, whose headquarters are in Deeside, has more than 800 stores across the UK and employs more than 23,000 staff.