Surreal landscape with wooly moss of Iceland. Racomitrium lanuginosum, or gray moss as the plant is known locally, is a predominant part of the wild vegetation that thrives on the young lava fields in southern parts of Iceland. This robust plant is usually the first pioneer to colonize newly run lava, patiently covering the sharp-edged black and lifeless stone with soft gray-green carpets through the first decades while slowly, but surely, binding a layer of soil in preparation for more demanding settlers such as grasses and ferns.

The nation of Iceland is protecting its trademark identity

An application for “I ‘ celand” filed by Cosmica Cia. Ltda., an Ecuadorian company seeking to register the name for a line of vodka was opposed by the nation of Iceland on the basis that “The word ‘I ‘ celand’ denotes someone or something from Iceland [and] the public would likely believe the misrepresentation and believe the goods originate from the country of Iceland. . . Applicant’s ‘Iceland Vodka’ bottle features images of snow-capped mountains, which reinforces the perception that the vodka comes from Iceland.” The opposition is likely to be successful.

In another application filed in 2012 for a vodka branded “Iceland Pur,” the Trademark Examiner refused registration: “Registration is refused because the proposed mark consists of or comprises geographically deceptive and primarily geographically deceptively misdescriptive matter in relation to the identified goods [vodka].” If the primary significance of a mark is to indicate a geographic location which is neither obscure nor remote and applicant’s goods are manufactured or produced in the location indicated, then the public is likely to believe that the geographic term identifies the place from which the goods originate. Thus, unless the vodka used Iceland water or other ingredients, or was produced in Iceland, it would be misleading to consumers who would believe there was a connection with the vodka product and Iceland when in fact there was none.

The nation of Iceland also brought a proceeding in the European Union’s trademark office to cancel a registration for “Iceland” held by a South African grocery chain on the same basis.

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