Feta, Camembert and Icelandic lamb - these are all familiar terms. What’s more, they are protected product names with a geographical indication or as a traditional specialty.

With the passing of Act No. 130/2014 on the protection of product names as designations of origin, geographical indications or traditional specialties, Icelandic producers can apply for special protection for their products. The aim of the act is to increase consumer protection and product value and prevent unfair business practices. The Act applies to names of food, wine and spirit drinks, as well as non-food products such as wool, feathers, skin/fur, leather, etc. The product name may be protected if the product is originating in a specific region, place or country,it has qualities or characteristics of the geographical area, and the production, processing and preparation of the product takes place in the defined geographical area.

Iceland now has two registered product names, both related to the Icelandic sheep: Icelandic lamb and Icelandic wool sweater, Lopapeysa. The registrations prevent unauthorised parties from using these names to market their products unless certain criteria are met.

In May 2018, Iceland signed an agreement with the European Union on the mutual protection of product names. When the ISIPO assesses the registrability of trademarks on the basis of the Trade Mark ActNo. 45/1997, the Office must refuse registration if there is a registered product name in Iceland or the European Union for the same or similar products,cf. item 10, Paragraph 1 of Article 14 of the Trade Mark Act. This provision was recently applied for the first time when Mjólkursamsalan applied to register two trademarks referring to Feta cheese, but Feta is a registered product name in the European Union for cheese originating in Greece. The applications were therefore rejected because of this, but the outcome would probably be the same if someone in the European Union applied to register a trademark referring to the Icelandic lamb or Icelandic lopapeysa.

This article first appeared in the ISIPO Annual Report 2019.

Dagný Fjóla Jóhannsdóttir

Dagný Fjóla Jóhannsdóttir

Senior Legal Examiner
Í leyfi / On leave