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Businesses The Courts

Iceland is Suing a Supermarket That's Using Its Name (cnn.com) 102

In a case which could puzzle copyright, trademark, and intellectual property offices, Iceland (the country) is not happy with a Britain supermarket chain, which is also called Iceland. From a CNN report:On Friday, Iceland, the country, took legal action against Iceland (the retailer), saying its enforcement of a trademark has prevented local firms from marketing their products using the name. Iceland Foods holds a Europe-wide trademark for the name Iceland, which it has been trading under for 46 years. "Iceland Foods has aggressively pursued and won multiple cases against Icelandic companies which use 'ICELAND' in their representation or as part of their trademark, even in cases when the products and services do not compete," the government said in a statement. The Icelandic government is now asking the European Union Intellectual Property Office to invalidate the trademark.
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Iceland is Suing a Supermarket That's Using Its Name

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    • When Iceland (the supermarket) first started out, domestic freezers were still a bit of a novelty (at least here in the UK). Iceland was so called because they specialised in this relatively new market. I am just about old enough to remember going there with my mother about 40 years ago when we got our first freezer and Iceland were still quite a new company. I vaguely remember a modest sized (by modern standards) supermarket with rows of big chest freezers.

      On the substantive point of the trademark i
      • by Sneftel ( 15416 )

        On the substantive point of the trademark infringement, I had the impression that if you don't defend a trademark then you lose it. Iceland have been displaying their name in huge illuminated signs all over the UK for decades so how the Country can now come along and act shocked I can't imagine.

        It's not the defense itself that's the important part. If you don't defend a trademark and it's used more and more to refer to things other than those you're selling, you risk the trademark becoming a generic term for... well, refrigerated food in this case, but w/e. The law cares only minimally about the amount of vigor with which you've defended the trademark against genericity; the important thing is whether it's still a trademarkable word or not. In this case, "Iceland" isn't used by anyone as a generic

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@@@world3...net> on Friday November 25, 2016 @05:36PM (#53361771) Homepage Journal

        The country isn't claiming that the supermarket can't use the name, they are defending other businesses that use Iceland in their names from being threatened and sued by the supermarket.

        Iceland the retailer seems to think it has to stop all other businesses using Iceland in any context. Iceland the country it's upset because it makes it hard for Icelandic businesses to operate in Europe, even when they aren't supermarkets or likely to be confused with the British retailer.

        • I think it's the slippery slope argument. If Iceland Foods does not defend its name everytime it's used by a company from Reykjavik (I'll use that to denote the Iceland government to keep having to type everytime 'the country', as well as the island itself, since not too much outside that city would presumably find its way into European markets), then sooner or later, an Icelandic grocery store could use a similar name to compete directly against the retailer.

          But thinking about it, I wonder how it'll wor

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      If I was starting a supermarket I wouldn't call it "Bunch of fishermen who started a bank and stole everybody's money, the fucking cunts.

      Funny, I'd call it "UK Government who tried to back out of their responsibilities as the secondary insurer after the primary insurer went bankrupt, and instead tried to blackmail a much smaller, weaker country into paying your insurance obligations for you that they were never responsible for, then ultimately sued and lost in court, confirming the very simple account insur

      • by jeremyp ( 130771 )

        So the three main Icelandic banks had debts between them of around ten times the size of Iceland's GDP and it's supposed to be the fault of the UK.

        Yeah, right.

        • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday November 25, 2016 @08:22PM (#53362617) Homepage

          Try again.

          1) The lawsuit was over Icesave, not over the failure of the three banks.

          2) Icesave was a savings program created by Landsbankinn backed by a private fund as the primary insurer.

          3) The secondary insurer was the government of the respective area that the customers were from - Iceland was the secondary insurer in Iceland, the UK government in the UK, and the Dutch government in the Netherlands.

          4) When the market crashed, the private fund went bankrupt. This passed insurance responsibility to the secondary insurers.

          5) Iceland paid Icelanders, as the secondary insurer for the Icelandic market, up to the insured limit. They later passed a bill paying out the full value of the accounts to Icelandic customers.

          6) The UK and Dutch governments, however, tried to shirk their responsibilities as the secondary insurers in their respective markets, and instead tried to blackmail Iceland into insuring it for them. A great deal of pressure was put on Iceland on a wide variety of fronts, ranging from EU negotiations to emergency loans to fisheries.

          7) The then-government commenced negotiations and came up with a bill to pay the majority of the UK and Netherlands' responsibilities, to try to be able to put it behind them and get the economy back on track. Our president rejected it, which put it to referendum. The public overwhelmingly rejected it.

          8) The next government used the failure to try to negotiate a better deal and got one for reduced, but still extremely painful covering of the UK and Netherlands' liabilities. Again it was vetoed, and again the public rejected it, although not by as large of a margin.

          9) The UK and Netherlands decided that this wasn't going anywhere, so took us to the EFTA court.

          10) The EFTA court reviewed the case, and found in our favour on all counts. The UK and Netherlands did bear responsibility as the secondary insurers and not Iceland. As is standard, all of the costs of all of the litigation additionally fell on them.

          • This bullshit about secondary insurers wouldn't matter if they hadn't been trading recklessly in the first place.

            By even bringing it up you're admitting the original theft.

            • by Rei ( 128717 )

              This bullshit about secondary insurers wouldn't matter if they hadn't been trading recklessly in the first place.

              If you don't want your investment account to be backed with a private fund as the primary insurer, then... wait for it.... don't invest in an account with a private fund as the primary insurer. It was literally one click away from the front page describing Icesave accounts, clearly labeled. This wasn't some secret, you can't pretend, "Oh, I had no idea it was a private fund that was the primary

      • Given how they once had an empire that extended as far as New Zealand (is it anywhere near their antipode?), don't be surprised that they went after Iceland. They had to be driven out of most of these countries. What's impressive is that Iceland managed to take a hostile stance against a leading member of NATO, threaten to leave NATO if they didn't keep the Brits from encroaching, and ultimately forced the Brits out of there.

        • So, despite the cuntbrain above bragging about how fucking hard they are, they basically won by crying to the Yanks?

          • I saw it as successfully blackmailing the Yanks. "If you don't stop the Brits from fishing in our waters, we will leave NATO and join the Warsaw Pact". A Soviet outpost in the midst of the North Atlantic which could have missiles strategically targeting the US, Canada, UK and Norway was probably enough to 'encourage' the Yanks to take the side of Reykjavik in this dispute
      • Fine we stick to our own fish stocks which we have for decades. You want to trade in the EU stick to *OUR* rules over trademarks. Simples really.

      • And you should learn the difference between trawlers and naval vessels. Firing on civilians in international waters during the Cod Wars [wikipedia.org] did not make Iceland any friends in the UK.
  • The last time I was in Reykjavic, there was a garden store called "Alaska".
  • by julian67 ( 1022593 ) on Friday November 25, 2016 @07:10PM (#53362227)

    The oddest thing about Iceland (the frozen goods supermarket) is that, despite it being several hundred years younger than Iceland (the nation), you only have to briefly rummage around in the bottom of one of their freezers to discover goods which pre-date by hundreds of years the LandnÃmabÃk (the settlement of Iceland begun in 874 AD).

    And they taste yummy!

  • ...they should also sue Iceland foods for defamation of character. People probably believe that the god-like substances they sell are made in Iceland - a slur on Icelandic cuisine and production ;)
  • I used to love Dorman's Iceland cheese. They had some pretty good Baby Swiss also.

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard

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