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France’s ‘battle of the pageants’ continues, as TM dispute may halt Miss Nationale


November 15, 2011/12.52

Barbara Morel
Above Barbara Morel, Miss Nationale 2011, in her Miss Provence publicity photograph. Legal issues mean that she is unlikely to crown a successor this year.

In a further twist, an ongoing trade mark dispute may prevent Geneviève de Fontenay, former director of Miss France, from holding her rival Miss Nationale pageant this year, originally scheduled for December 4.
   The latest development sees Michel le Parmentier claim that he registered the trade mark ‘Miss Nationale’ in 2009. He says he will proceed with his Miss Nationale 2012, to be elected December 18.
   Le Parmentier first made the headlines last December, soon after de Fontenay’s registration for the brand—specifically ‘Miss Nationale Geneviève de Fontenay’—was published in the French trade mark journal.
   He says he will enforce his rights to the name against de Fontenay.
   Miss France owner Endemol, to whom de Fontenay sold the rights in 2002 for a reported €6 million, has already gone to arbitration to bar her from running this year’s pageant.
   Endemol cited a non-compete clause in the original sale agreement. It expires in December 2013.
   The arbitrator’s decision would mean that de Fontenay faces a €100,000 fine if she proceeds with her December 4 competition.
   De Fontenay told AFP that the contest was not cancelled, merely postponed.
Malika Ménard   The developments may mean that de Fontenay, affectionately known as ‘la dame au chapeau’, will not be running a national pageant in France this year for the first time since 1957.
   The first Miss Nationale run by de Fontenay saw Barbara Morel, later linked to basketballer Tony Parker, win the crown on December 5, 2010.
   Meanwhile, Malika Ménard, Miss France 2010, appears tonight in a French TV show on science fiction make-up, Face Off (Syfy, 10.20 p.m., in France; above right). A student at ITM Paris, a make-up school, worked on Ménard for five hours to transform her into a science fiction character.

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