Country Sues Supermarket With Same Name

[Business ★★★]


(P1) It’s Iceland vs. Iceland. The island nation of Iceland says it’s 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, the AP reports. 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.”

(P2) 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.

WORDS: 213


VOCABULARY: branding, Nordic, ambiguous, conglomerate, devastated


If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you think the country of Iceland should take legal action against the company? Why or why?
  3. Are there any retail conglomerates in your country?
  4. What’s the economy like right now in your country?


  1. The country of Iceland wants the company, Iceland, to allow both parties to use the Iceland name. (T or F)
  2. The nation of Iceland said the Europe-wide trademark is unusually _____________ and _________________.
  3. Business in Iceland can’t use ____________ to describe their products.
  4. How long has the merchant been in business in Britain?
  5. Both the nation of Iceland and the merchant have always had a good relationship until now. (T or F)


What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • over the right to use (P1)
  • fight the claim (P2)
  • public mind (P2)
  • the volcanic Viking-founded nation (P2)

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Image source: by Frank Augstein

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