French steak knife village Laguiole wins right to name

Laguiole, the French village famous for its steak knives of the same name, has been granted the right to ban companies that are using the name - but are actually located elsewhere - from doing so.

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The Aveyron (Occitanie) village has won a court case against a Val-de-Marne (Île-de-France)-based entrepreneur - Gilbert Szajner - who had registered the trademark name “Laguiole” and was allowing companies to use the name on their knives, even if the products had not been manufactured in the famous French commune.

Often, these products were even imported from outside of France, and had no links to Laguiole itself.

The Court of Appeal in Paris this week cancelled permission for around 20 companies to use the name “Laguiole”, meaning that they are no longer allowed to stamp the name on their knife blades, or use it in any marketing or literature.

The court found that there was a risk “that the average consumer would believe that these products were originally from the said commune”.

The judges used the word “fraud”, and said the selling of the village name to others amounted to a “strategy to deprive the commune and its administrators of the use of the name Laguiole”.

Mr Szajner, his son, and their company Laguiole have been ordered to pay €50,000 to the village in moral damages, and €20,000 each in legal fees.

The ruling marks the end of a 20-year battle by the village, as Mr Szajner first registered the name for use by outside companies in 1993.

Mayor of Laguiole, Vincent Alazard, said: “We are rediscovering the possibility of using our own name, that they had taken from us!”

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