Why couldn't we protect the Laguiole knife ?
At the beginning of the 20th century, France created the AOC (Appellations d'Origines Contrôlées, or controlled designations of origin) in order to protect agri-foodstuffs goods located in France.
In 1992, Europe implemented the PDOs (Protected Designation of origin) which replaced the AOC. But such protective measures still did not apply to crafted goods.
Why exclude them ? Others countries outside of the EU protected their cultural heritage from globalization, such as Peru which protected its Chulucanas ceramics with a Designation of Origin.
France had to do something. The Hamon Act of March 17th 2014 created the IGPIA (the Protected Geographical Indications for Industrial and Crafted Goods).
IGPIAs will protect craftsmen against brands. For instance, a pre-existing brand will not be able to stop the creation of an IGPIA which uses a similar sign, unless the reputation or consumer-awareness of the product concerned by the IGPIA are exclusively attributable to said brand.
It seems therefore unlikely that the LAGUIOLE brand would be able to oppose the creation of a Laguiole Knife IGPIA, unless... the owner of the LAGUIOLE brand can prove that consumers know these knives exclusively thanks to him. Which is not the case.
Arnaud Montebourg remarked that once the Consumer Act of March 17th 2014 comes into force, ''the owner of an existing Geographical Indication will be able to oppose the registration of a trademark which would prejudice it.'' However, since there is no retroactive effect, it will not apply to Laguiole.
A geographical indication is a sign affixed on products with a specific geographical origin and which possess qualities or a notoriety resulting from their location of origin.
AO and AOC (1900)
At first, the AOC could only be granted to wine products while the AO was designed for all sorts of products, natural or processed. However the AO did not meet with the anticipated success due to procedural difficulties and to the strict conditions required to get it. Only a few craft products such as the Puy lacework, the Vallauris earthenware or the Tahiti monoi were granted an AO. In 1990, the AOC, easier to obtain, came to include all agri-foodstuffs products, though it still didn't apply to crafted goods.
PDOs and PGIs (1992)
Protecting the origin of a product became a European concern. PDOs certify the geographical origin of a product whose quality or features are linked to said geographical environment, and whose production and processing all take place in the same area. Nowadays, PDOs have replaced AOCs except for wine products, for historical reasons. As for PGIs, they also identify the geographical origin of a product, but the main difference is that they only require one of the steps - production or processing - to take place within the area. IGPs are therefore less closely linked to their territories than PDOs.
European law, covering only agri-foodstuffs products, was still not providing any protection for crafted goods.
IGPIAs aim to identify non agri-foodstuffs goods originating from a specific geographical area, whose quality, reputation, know-how or other features can be essentially attributed to said geographical origin and whose production or processing take place in the geographical area under consideration.
We did not wait for the IGPIAs to certify the authenticity of our knives.
Every year Veritas inspects our company to certify to our clients that our Laguiole knives are well and truly made in France, in Thiers. That is how we obtained the French Origin Certified label.