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Nation of Iceland wages name battle with UK grocer Iceland

Associated Press Associated Press 24/11/2016
FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016 file photo, an Icelandic flag hangs outside a shop in Reykjavik. The island nation of Iceland says it is taking legal action against British frozen-food chain Iceland over the right to use their shared name. Iceland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it has challenged Iceland Foods at the European Union Intellectual Property Office. It says it is acting because the retail chain "aggressively pursued" Icelandic companies using the word Iceland in their branding. In a statement on Thursday, Nov. 24 it says the situation has left the country's firms "unable to describe their products as Icelandic." (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016 file photo, an Icelandic flag hangs outside a shop in Reykjavik. The island nation of Iceland says it is taking legal action against British frozen-food chain Iceland over the right to use their shared name. Iceland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it has challenged Iceland Foods at the European Union Intellectual Property Office. It says it is acting because the retail chain "aggressively pursued" Icelandic companies using the word Iceland in their branding. In a statement on Thursday, Nov. 24 it says the situation has left the country's firms "unable to describe their products as Icelandic." (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)

LONDON — It's Iceland vs. Iceland.

The island nation of Iceland said Thursday it is taking legal action against British frozen-food chain Iceland over the right to use their shared name.

Iceland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it has challenged Iceland Foods at the European Union Intellectual Property Office. It says it is acting because the retail chain "aggressively pursued" Icelandic companies using the word Iceland in their branding.

Iceland Foods holds a Europe-wide trademark registration for the word "Iceland," and the Nordic country's government said it was "exceptionally broad and ambiguous in definition."

In a statement, the ministry said the situation has left the country's firms "unable to describe their products as Icelandic."

The retailer, which has operated supermarkets across Britain for 46 years, said it would fight the claim.

It said it does not believe "any serious confusion or conflict has ever arisen in the public mind" between the chain of stores and the volcanic Viking-founded nation.

"We hope that the government will contact us directly so that we may address their concerns," the company said.

The two Icelands once had a close relationship. Icelandic retail conglomerate Baugur Group held a major stake in the grocer until Baugur's collapse in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis that devastated Iceland's economy.

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