(left) Iceland supermarket in Derbyshire and the Langjokull Glacier in Iceland. The Icelandic government is launching a lawsuit against the UK supermarket in a bid to make the chain give up its name PA

UK supermarket chain Iceland has claimed that the Icelandic government is unwilling to hold "any serious discussion" to settle a trademark dispute over usage of the name Iceland.

The Icelandic government has launched legal action against Iceland Foods, which owns the European trademark for using the name Iceland, claiming the supermarket prevents the country's companies from calling their products Icelandic.

In a statement, Iceland Foods founder and chief executive Malcolm Walker said the supermarket had sent a delegation to the Icelandic capital Reykjavik on Friday but the talks yielded nothing of substance.

"It rapidly became clear that the Icelandic authorities have no interest in reaching a compromise. We have no real idea why this has suddenly become such a major problem for Iceland [the country].

"Iceland Foods had Icelandic majority shareholders and Icelandic representatives on its board for seven years to 2012. At no point in all those years did any representative of Iceland [the country] raise the slightest concern about our company's branding."

Furthermore, the company also operates stores in Iceland; part of its 900-strong portfolio of outlets. In response, Iceland's foreign ministry described Iceland Foods' position as "untenable."

The ministry said the UK supermarket had refused to move from is stubborn position of keeping exclusive control of the word Iceland, and therefore a decision had been taken to pursue legal action to invalidate the company's trademark.

"The registration of a country name that enjoys highly positive national branding to a private company defies logic and is untenable," the ministry added.

Iceland Foods insists that in the past it only tried to prevent other food and retail companies from using the name Iceland. However, it acknowledged that an attempt to register "Inspired by Iceland" had been blocked not knowing the attempt was made by Reykjavik.

Iceland Foods said had it known the source of the attempt, it would have been "very happy to have a conversation with them to explore ways in which their desire to promote Icelandic products could co-exist with our established rights as owners of the Iceland brand."

Iceland Foods added that it remains hopeful an amicable arrangement could still be reached.