Iceland is not only a popular holiday destination, but also a trending trademark topic (we refer to our earlier posts on Iceland. The country?).
The topic is about claiming a country as a trademark: the trademark ICELAND is registered by Iceland Foods, a supermarket in amongst others the UK and Ireland. The Icelandic government disputes the validity of the trademark as it believes that ICELAND cannot be claimed at all as a trademark.
Although the Icelandic government announced a legal procedure, they might want to reconsider this in view of the recent opposition between Iceland Foods against the European application INSPIRED BY ICELAND of the Icelandic Tourist Office (see below). This opposition was firmly rejected by the EUIPO.
EUIPO states that: “It should be noted that the Court has stated that ‘in proceedings opposing the registration of a European Union trademark, the validity of national trademarks may not be called into question’. The Court added that ‘it should be noted that the characterisation of a sign as descriptive or generic is equivalent to denying its distinctive character’. Therefore, it is considered that this word has a minimum degree of distinctiveness for all the earlier goods and services.”
And accordingly the scope of protection is minimal: the trademarks are different enough and no confusion can occur, according EUIPO.
So if you read between the lines EUIPO agrees with the Icelandic government. A geographical indication like ICELAND cannot be a trademark.
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“Trademark protection gives freedom to do business.”