• 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
Opinion - Brexit
Why a Brexit would be a 'windfall' for France
Photo: AFP

A Brexit wouldn't mean the "apocalypse" the doomsdayers are predicting, it would actually be a "tremendous opportunity" for France.

Post Brexit: Paris and London vow to cooperate not compete
Sadiq Khan and Anne Hidalgo vow to work together. Photo: AFP

The mayors of Paris and London have vowed to work together in order to shape the 21st century.

Voters give green light to new airport in western France
Photo: AFP

Will this finally mark the end of years of wrangling and protests?

'We can handle Brexit' insist Hollande and Merkel
Photo: AFP

France and Germany say they are on the same page when it comes to handling the fallout of last week's shock Brexit vote.

Euro 2016
France survive Irish scare to make quarter-final
Antoine Griezmann scored two second-half goals. Photo: AFP

Antoine Griezmann broke Irish hearts with two second-half goals as France came from behind to claim a 2-1 win over ten-man Republic of Ireland and move into the Euro 2016 quarter-finals on Sunday.

'Transatlantic trade deal not good for EU': French PM
"I can tell you frankly, there cannot be a transatlantic treaty agreement. This agreement is not on track," Valls said. Photo: AFP

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Sunday blasted a planned EU-US trade treaty, saying the ambitious deal was against "EU interests."

Euro 2016
Five things you didn't know about France and Ireland
Photos: AFP

France and Ireland have more than a few interesting connections. Here are our favourite five.

Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit
Photo: AFP

The Brexit vote has prompted a mixed bag of reactions from the French public.

Opinion - Brexit seen from abroad
'Today it's hard not to feel ashamed to be British'
Photo: AFP

Apologies France, we may have just messed up your country too.

Brexit
French in UK: 'Brexit vote is clearly against foreigners'
The French Bookshop in London's Kensington. Photo: AFP

Spare a thought for the French people living in the UK right now. They didn't even get to vote.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit
National
How Brexit could now scupper that dream move to France
Brexit limbo: What happens next for Brits in France?
Gallery
Ten reasons why you should think about becoming French
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Analysis & Opinion
Brexit: Life for Brits in France 'will get more complicated'
Culture
20 English words that 'should be banished' from French
National
Best Briehaviour: A guide to French cheese etiquette
Features
And the best city in France for expats to live in is...?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Forget bikes, Paris is set to roll out scooter rentals
National
'We fear for our safety': French police feel the strain
Lifestyle
Why Rennes (and not Paris) is the best city in France for expats to live
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Why are the French losing appetite for baguettes?
Lifestyle
Naturism booms in France as young eager to ditch clothes
Lifestyle
Is working life better in London or Paris?
National
Dear Americans: Please come to Paris
National
It's official (kind of): French work fewest hours in EU
And the best football fans of Euro 2016 in France are?
National
Paris has wettest spring in 100 years and it's hitting morale
Police murders remind France of complexity of terror threat
National
IN PICTURES: Labour law protests in Paris turn ugly
National
Double murder just latest jihadist attack on French police and soldiers
International
French police appear unprepared for hooligan threat at Euro 2016
Sport
An A to Z guide of what to expect in France for Euro 2016
2,726
jobs available