Iceland is in the spotlight in the trade mark world, following a number of legal disputes regarding the use of the word "Iceland" in trade marks.
Iceland Foods has been, since 2014, the proprietor of the trade mark "Iceland" in various trade mark classes covering various food and drink items together with washing machines, paper and the "bringing together for the benefit of others, of a variety of goods, enabling customers to conveniently view and purchase those goods in a supermarket" in class 35 of the Nice classification system. Iceland Foods initially applied for the trademark in 2002 but the mark was registered in 2014, after Iceland Foods successfully overcame five oppositions. The mark is controversial as it raises the question of the extent to which Iceland Foods can use its mark to prevent companies based in Iceland using the mark Iceland in their trading name or trade marks.
Promote Iceland, a "public-private partnership established to improve the competitiveness of Icelandic companies in foreign markets and to stimulate economic growth through increased export" recently applied to register "Inspired by Iceland" as an EU Trade Mark; Iceland Foods have filed an opposition to the application, based on its earlier mark for Iceland. The outcome of the opposition proceedings will be interesting to observe in due course but the wider question posed by the IPKat in its recent article is whether or not a country's name should be registrable as a trade mark.
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