French Village Turns To President For Help In Trademark Battle

by T+B Blog Team on April 23, 2014

Known to the world for its knives, the French village of Laguiole recently sought the assistance of president Francois Hollande after losing a trademark battle in court.

The “Laguiole” name has been owned by businessman Gilbert Szajner since 1993, when he registered it as a trademark. He then started marketing various products under the name – from corkscrews and table linen, to barbecues. Some of the products bearing the Laguiole name, however, are made in China, which has enraged the town’s residents who feel robbed of their identity.

The villagers were unable to get the French courts to annul the trademark in 2012, and they have since lost an appeal as well. This month, the French appeal court decided it is acceptable for companies to use family and geographical names as trademarks, ruling that the company has not dealt a blow to the image or reputation of the village of Laguiole, The Guardian reported.

According to the court’s ruling, village residents cannot sell goods stamped with the name of Laguiole except for knives decorated with the famous bee logo. The trademark’s owner can continue to sell the rights to use the Laguiole name to both French and foreign companies who express an interest.

The mayor of the village, Vincent Alazard, called the situation surreal, saying that businesses putting the name of Lagiuole on items other than knives could now be accused of counterfeiting products manufactured in Asia. In a last attempt to return the name to the village, the mayor has sent the president a letter asking for help, The Local reports.

Do you think the Laguiole trademark is harming the village’s image and its citizens’ reputation?

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