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IP insight

Laguiole vs Laguiole

[10/04/2019]

After many years of legal battle, the village of Laguiole, well-known worldwide for its knives, will finally be able to use its own name!

In 1993, Mr. Szajner filed several trademarks including the term "Laguiole" to designate various goods and had since then negotiated licenses on such basis with third parties, thus preventing the municipality from exploiting that name as a trademark for its own knives.

In 2010, Laguiole brought an action before the Paris Court of First Instance (TGI) to get Mr Szajner’s trademarks cancelled on the ground that they were infringing its image and reputation.

The action was dismissed in first instance and on appeal, but the Paris Court of Appeal finally ruled in favour of the municipality on 5 March 2019.  The Court indeed cancelled twenty trademarks filed by Mr. Szajner by invoking a “strategy to deprive the municipality and its citizens of the use of the name Laguiole”.

Although the municipality of Laguiole recovers the right to use and defend its name, Mr. Szajner nevertheless retains several trademarks which are unrelated to knives.

This decision highlights the importance of the surveillance and protection of trademarks.

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