Last year I wrote about my sunshiney Laguiole-style cutlery, and had a very interesting conversation with reader Christine about the naming, provenance and trademark issues surrounding the Laguiole flatware heritage. It appeared that the ‘original’ Forge de Laguiole was never trademarked, and every other branded Laguiole-style flatware such as Jean Dubost at one end and Debutante at the other was a bit of a knock-off regardless of differences in quality.
Annnnnnyway … I saw this article yesterday (I hesitate to add that I do not habitually read the Herald-Scum; I saw it in Mx which is a much high quality publication ROTFLMAO hahaha) and the upshot is that apparently everything labelled Laguiole has been trademarked and it’s all even more confusing and silly than we imagined.
Key points include:
“Under the terms of the brand’s registration, anyone can use the name Laguiole for knives …”.
“The court ruled that … Laguiole knives had become a generic product not necessarily linked to a particular place.”
I am just going to keep buying flatware that I like the look of seeing as it’s all dubious anyway!
French village renounces knife name
by: Emmy Varley
September 30, 2012 2:49PM
RESIDENTS of Laguiole, a village synonymous with the manufacture of France’s most famous knives, have symbolically “unnamed” the place in protest against losing control of the name.
The villagers are furious that the name Laguiole has passed into the hands of an entrepreneur who allows it to be used to sell made-in-China knives and barbecues.
To the cheers of about 200 locals, mayor Vincent Alazard pulled down a sign at the entrance to the village in the Aveyron region of southwestern France.
“Our name no longer belongs to us, so what do you want us to do with this sign?” the mayor asked the assembled protesters. “We are going to take it to Paris and give it to those who have taken it away from us.”
The village this month lost a legal battle to reclaim rights to the name from businessman Gilbert Szajner, who registered Laguiole as a trademark in 1993 and has since licensed its use for products including clothes, table and bed linen, lighters and barbecues, as well as the cutlery which originally made its name.
Under the terms of the brand’s registration, anyone can use the name Laguiole for knives but the villagers would have to pay Szajner if they want to diversify and produce any other products under that name.
“The word Laguiole has been kidnapped, it has been stolen from us,” said Michel Bras, owner of the village’s Michelin three-star restaurant.
“It is very easy to ride on the backs of people who made sacrifices, who made the most of what little they had, to establish the name of this area.
“These people have been swindled by someone who does not know the place.”
The local council attempted unsuccessfully to persuade a Paris court to annul the trademark registered by Szajner on the grounds that his use of it could confuse consumers about the origin of products.
The court ruled that the name of the village was not sufficiently well known to constitute a de facto marque and that Laguiole knives had become a generic product not necessarily linked to a particular place.
An appeal is being planned.
Meanwhile, local officials hope to persuade the government to pass a law protecting village names and to create a wine-style system of labelling manufactured products by their origin.