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An amazing piece of business litigation has erupted in Europe. In the United Kingdom, there is a chain of supermarkets called “Iceland Foods.” In the European Union, this company was granted a trademark for the word “Iceland” in 2014. The country of Iceland is not a member of the European Union, but they do export a tremendous amount of frozen seafood to the EU. “Iceland Foods,” meanwhile, is a major provider of frozen food.

You can see the serious conflict here, and the result has been the country of Iceland pursuing legal action to change the way Iceland Foods can use their trademark. The country isn’t looking to end the trademark — only to allow for their exports to use the word “Iceland.”

As bizarre as this may seem, conflicts like this can arise and though on the surface they seem silly, they are actually quite serious. There could be millions of dollars at stake here just because a supermarket in the European Union trademarked the name of a country that exists outside of the union. How unbelievable is that?

We aren’t arguing for either side in this case — we just wanted to bring this to your attention. Trademark infringement, copyright protections, trade secrets: these are all important factors in the business world, and they need to be treated seriously. No matter what side of the case you are on in a trademark lawsuit or copyright dispute, you need to fully consider the legal ramifications of the case and how to proceed with your side of it.

Source: Independent, “Iceland v Iceland: The bitter trademark dispute erupts,” Luke McDonagh, Nov. 29, 2016