• 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
What's on in France: Ten great things to do in June
Photo: AFP

From music to car racing to food glorious food there is plenty to keep everyone entertained in France in June.

Rain and floods hit France and there's a lot more to come
Photo: AFP

It's not time to put away the umbrella in France just yet.

Rising anti-Semitism forces Jews out of Paris suburbs
Photo: AFP

Jewish communities throughout Paris suburbs are dwindling as they suffer abuse and attacks.

French gardener jailed for 30 years for killing British woman
The house of murdered Briton Patricia Wilson in south west France. Photo: AFP

The British woman's body has never been found.

 France makes it easier for pupils to get morning after pill
Photo: AFP

France has scrapped a clause in the rule book that meant only pupils "in distress" could get the pill.

IN PICTURES
Warnings for downpours and floods spread across France
Paris hasn't been spared in the storms. Photo: AFP

France has been hit by violent storms all day - and there are more to come.

French tax cops barred from using Google to probe Google
Photo: AFP

Investigators were not able to use Google to help them probe Google.

A complete guide to France's (many) ongoing strikes
All photos: AFP

It seems like all of France is on strike - here's how you can be prepared.

Air France pilots vote in favour of 'long strike'
Air France pilots at a strike in 2014. Photo: AFP

Just when you thought there couldn't possibly be another strike in France...

Verdun anniversary
Children jog among graves at Verdun: Was it 'indecent'?
Photo: AFP

The images of thousands of French and German children running through the grave stones to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the WW1 battle of Verdun has been slammed as “indecent”. Was it really?

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
National
How you'll be affected by France's ongoing strikes
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Features
What to expect when working in a bar in Paris
National
Violent storms in France: How to avoid being struck by lightning
National
Which of France's strikes could affect Euro 2016?
'You're not welcome': French police chief warns English yobs
How to avoid running out of fuel if you're coming to France
National
The French fuel crisis for dummies: 27 key questions
National
The trials and tribulations of moving to rural France
National
Five free smartphone apps to help you find petrol in France
Culture
Paris: Street artist makes the Louvre pyramid disappear
Interactive map: Where to find petrol in France
Who is the French union in a 'fight to the death' with the government?
Society
Opinion: Why the French are absolutely right to go on strike
National
Here's why both sides despise France's labour reforms
National
Who is really to blame for the fuel crisis in France?
National
Here are the parts of France hardest hit by the fuel shortages
Travel
It will soon be time to say 'au revoir' to the Paris Metro ticket
Culture
Revealed: The ultimate sex map of France
National
Migrants at Calais camp given dignity in death
International
How good is security at Charles de Gaulle airport?
Culture
How to make a traditional French cassoulet
Culture
IN PICS: Commuter trains in Paris get royal makeover
International
Terror attack 'likeliest cause' of missing EgyptAir plane
2,736
jobs available