Bank Norwegian once owned Norwegian Air Shuttle but was sold a few years ago, and now the airline is at odds with the bank's new owners over whether they can still use the name and other branding elements that are strongly associated with the airline.
Norwegian Air Shuttle holds the rights to the Norwegian trademark in Norway and in 2007 the airline established Bank Norwegian. But, facing financial difficulties, the airline sold its stake in Norwegian Bank in 2019 for more than $246 million.
Then, in 2021, Bank Norwegian was acquired by the Swedish banking group Nordax, and now Bank Norwegian wants to officially change its name to "Bank Norwegian, a part of Nordax Bank AB".
Bank Norwegian and Nordax says the name change is required by Norwegian law to make it clear who owns the bank, but Norwegian Air Shuttle objects to the Norwegian brand being associated with the Nordax brand.
The bank believes that it not only owns the Norwegian trademark Norwegian in the banking segment, but even has the right to issue the right to use this name to other banks. In order to obtain legal clarification as to who actually has the right to use the word Norwegian, the bank, in turn, sued the airline.
For its part, the airline considers litigation superfluous, they say, everything can be resolved amicably way, outside the legal system.
“In short, we do not agree that the Swedish bank Nordax can use our brand in the way they did after the acquisition, and we asked them to change this,” the carrier comments on its position.
Norwegian Air Shuttle claims under a trademark agreement that is supposedly in effect that the name Norwegian cannot be combined with the Nordax trademark.
In what appears to be retaliation, Norwegian Bank threatened to withdraw its co-branded credit card product. In addition, the bank participates in the Norwegian Air Shuttle frequent flyer program, and this is another issue if the conflict escalates.
Norwegian law does require banks to clearly indicate who owns the business, and it is forbidden to sell the bank branded differently from the owner's brand. So Norwegian needs to include the Nordax brand in its name.
However, another big player may soon join the controversy: Norwegian Cruise Line, a Miami-headquartered transatlantic and cruise line operator that owns its own fleet of cruise ships.