Laguiole knives , the pride of the Auvergne and Aubrac have not finished vibrating France. Why are they so many people outraged about the last court ?
Already more than 85,000 signatures have been collected in late April.
These knives are reflections of French know-how. Invented in 1829 by Pierre Calmels, in Laguiole, the knives were since then made by local artisans who marked their name on the knives, distinguished by their reliability.
In 1993 Gilbert Szajner, a resident of the Val de Marne used Laguiole brand in not only cutlery, but also linen, clothing, lighters, barbecues...The village of Laguiole reacted to this usage of name by taking the case to court.
In 1997, the justice condemned Mr. Szajner for counterfeiting but the Court of Appeal reversed this decision in 1999 arguing that the term had become Laguiole "generic" to describe a knife of a particular form.
This paved the way for the marketing of various products produced abroad and flooded the market of products Made in China which are not representative of quality of the original knives.
In 2012, despite numerous procedures brought by the Commune de Laguiole, Gilbert Szajner won this case because "Laguiole knife is a name penetrated in usual language and has no obvious direct link with the Commune de Laguiole."
The village then started a broader process on its behalf.
In a judgment of 4 April 2014 the Court of Appeal of Paris has rejected the request of the village Laguiole who wanted that justice recognize a commercial "misleading" practice and "undermining its name, its image and its reputation" .
So Mr. Szajner can continue to grant licences ,against royalty, to French or foreign companies who can commercialize imported products under the name Laguiole.
In contrast, residents of the village can no longer themselves use the name of their village to make manufactured goods bearing the label "Laguiole" except for the famous knives enhanced with a bee, already produced outside the village.