• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

French town takes knife fight to president

Joshua Melvin · 16 Apr 2014, 18:02

Published: 16 Apr 2014 18:02 GMT+02:00

The mayor of the tiny French town of Laguiole has sent a letter to President François Hollande asking him to step in so residents can use the famous village name to market their products.

The move came after villagers lost a court fight against a wealthy businessman who owns the trademark of the village name and who makes the famous Laguiole knives as well as other Laguiole branded products in China.

“In the coming days we would like to come to the capital in order to appeal to you, Mr. President, and relinquish to you the town sign that we have removed,” wrote mayor Vincent Alazard.

Alazard pulled down the village sign in 2012 as a symbolic "unnaming", after losing control of France's most famous' knife brand name in a court case. At stake is what could be last chance for the 1,300 residents of the village to reclaim its name for commercial purposes.

Since 1993 the "Laguiole" name has been the property of businessman Gilbert Szajner. That year he trademarked the village name and has fiercely protected his right to use it.

Szajner has taken the Laguiole name and put it on scores of types of products including lighters, house linens and even barbecues.

The villagers lost the court battles to keep control of the name in 2012 but lodged an appeal, which was denied this month. In its ruling the appeals court wrote: the town of Laguiole "does not show" that the use made of the name would be "likely to harm public interests or prejudice its citizens.”

The mayor described the ruling as surreal. "If tomorrow one of our businesses wants to make Laguiole forks and puts the name Laguiole on them, we will be accused of counterfeiting products made in Asia," Alazard said.

In addition to the ruling against the villagers, the court has also ordered them to pay  a total of €100,000, Europe 1 radio reported.

The consequence is that the owner of the trademark can continue to sell the rights to use the Laguiole name to French and foreign companies who wish make products bearing the brand.

Residents of Laguiole, however, cannot sell goods stamped with name, apart from the knives bearing the brands famous bee logo.

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines

Here is a recap of major assaults and foiled attempts since the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris in January 2015.

French fears realized after 'terror attack' on church
Notre Dame is one place of worship that soldiers are asked to protect. Photo: AFP

With the French president describing the brutal killing of a priest during a hostage taking as a "vile terror attack" it appears France's long-standing fears that its churches would be targeted have been realized.

BREAKING
Priest slain in 'terror attack' on church in northern France
Photo: AFP

UPDATED: Two men armed with knives killed a priest after taking several people hostage at a French church, before they were shot dead by police.

One dead after violent clashes in Calais migrant camp
The "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais. Photo: AFP

An Ethiopian has died after he was stabbed in the chest during clashes at the Calais migrant camp.

Nice attack: Two more suspected accomplices held
Photo: AFP

One of the arrested men was reportedly in a photo with the killer beside the truck used in the attack.

Nice security row rumbles on as minister files lawsuit
Photo: AFP

Despite the efforts of the French president the controversy over the security arrangements on the night of the Nice attack won't go away.

Air France strike to see 30 percent of flights grounded
Photo: AFP

Here's what to do if you are affected by the one-week Air France strike that begins on Wednesday.

Pokémon Go sparks chaos and concern in France
Teenagers sprint through a park in Bordeaux, not in panic, but in search of a rare Pokemon. Photo: MonsieurBright/YouTube

Videos of hundreds of people sprinting through a park would normally be cause for panic in France at the moment.

The ten places where you really need to speak French
Photo: Lily A./Flickr

There are some places and situations in France where you just have to speak French.

Isis can be a conduit for psychopaths' violent desires
A pilce of rubbish marks the spot where Nice truck attacker Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel was shot by police.

Isis did not create these attackers, they were well on their way.

Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
A timeline of terror in France since Charlie Hebdo
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
Thirteen free and easy ways to learn French
Culture
32 mistakes foreigners make when they arrive in France
National
Here are the worst scams to avoid whilst driving in France
Analysis & Opinion
Isis can simply be a conduit for the violent desires of psychopaths
Features
Six outdoor bars in Paris you simply must visit
Culture
The open-air Villette cinema has been cancelled over security fears
Culture
Henri Rousseau exhibition proves huge hit in Paris
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Frenchman caught trying to sell Nice massacre souvenirs online
Society
OPEN NOW: Here's why you should head to the Paris Plages
Culture
What's on in France: Still plenty to see and do in July
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Lifestyle
Treasures of Versailles to go on display in Australia
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
National
Nice attack: What we know so far
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Nice attacker: Body-building, drug-taking, violent flirt
National
IN IMAGES: Drawings in tribute to Nice attack victims
Society
Promenade des Anglais: The iconic heart of the French Riviera
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
France faces more questions after latest deadly attack
National
Why is France the target of choice for jihadist attacks?
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Nice truck attack: 'Bodies went flying like bowling pins'
Nice attack: Families of missing make pleas on Twitter
Politics
Boris Johnson cheered and booed at Bastille Day party
National
Ten reasons not to leave Paris this summer
2,766
jobs available