As a response to the decision of Québec (Procureure générale) v. Magasins Best Buy ltée, 2015 QCCA 747 described in the post entitled “Québec Signage Issue – Appeal Dismissed from the Bench” posted on May 20th, 2015, the Government of Québec recently announced that it intends to bring forward a new regulation requiring companies with non-French names to add wording in French to their exterior signs.
The new regulation is set to be introduced this fall. Though details regarding the provisions of the regulation have yet to be specified, companies could be required to add a French slogan, generic word or description of the product or service that they are marketing. Whichever option the company chooses must be at least as visible as the trade-mark that it wishes to promote.
In Québec (Procureure générale) v. Magasins Best Buy ltée, the Québec Court of Appeal ruled that the Charter of the French language does not allow the Office québécois de la langue française to require retailers to add a French descriptor to their English trade-marks. The decision dismissed the Government of Québec’s appeal of a judgement rendered in April 2014 by the Québec Superior Court in favour of Best Buy, Costco, Curves, Guess, Gap, Old Navy, Toys “R” Us and Walmart. The Québec Superior Court ruled that the Charter of the French language and its regulations allowed signs to display trade names in a language other than French without including a generic French term. In his decision, the trial judge specified that only the legislator could impose the necessary solutions, by adopting legislation if necessary, in order to provide a better framework for the public display of trade-marks in a language other than French.
The Government of Québec has made clear in its announcement that it will not adopt legislation to regulate trade-marks, which are under federal jurisdiction, and that companies will be consulted in the proposed process.
McCarthy Tétrault LLP – Nicolas Bertrand, Julie-Martine Loranger and Anne-Marie Naud
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