Update: Navigating Québec French Language Requirements

Jan 27 2017

The following is an update to our IP News article posted on September 9, 2016, titled En Français S’il Vous Plait: Navigating Québec French Language Requirements.

On November 9, 2016, final amendments to the Regulation respecting the language of commerce and business and the Regulation defining the scope of the expression “markedly predominant” for the purposes of Charter of the French Language were published and registered in the Gazette officielle du Québec. These amendments subsequently came into force on November 24, 2016. All signs installed after November 24, 2016 will therefore have to comply with the new rules. Existing signs will have until November 24, 2019 to comply.

To summarize the new rules:

  • Trademarks remain exempt and do not need to be translated into French.
  • Where a non-French trademark is displayed on outdoor signage, a “sufficient visual presence” of French must also exist.
  • A “sufficient visual presence of French” can be accomplished by including a French generic term or description of the products or services in question, a French slogan, or any other French term providing information pertaining to the products or services.
  • The French need not be markedly predominant, but it must be permanently visible, visually similar to the non-French trademark and be legible in the same visual field.

The Office québécois de la langue française, which is responsible for enforcing the Quebec Charter has also produced two accompanying guides (in French only) to assist businesses in complying with the new regulations. The first guide provides guidance, including illustrations, on the proper display of trademarks on signs including the display of trademarks exclusively in a language other than French.The second guide provides general information on the Quebec Charter and the obligations of businesses under the Quebec Charter.

Failure to comply with the Quebec Charter and regulations could lead to fines of up to $20,000 for a first offence.

This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice.

Author: Andrew Kaikai {former associate)

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Tags: Advertising & Marketing, Trademarks