On November 24, 2016, amendments to the Regulation respecting the language of commerce and business (Regulation) (link) under Québec’s Charter of the French Language (Charter) came into force.  The amendments require non-French trade-marks appearing on signs or posters outside buildings and structures in Québec to be accompanied by a sufficient presence of French. The amendments apply to new signs or posters or to the replacement of existing signs or posters installed after November 24, 2016.  For signs or posters existing as of November 24, 2016, businesses have until November 24, 2019 to comply.

The Charter requires that public signs and commercial advertising must be in French. However, the Regulation provides an exception for businesses to display recognized non-French trade-marks on public signs and commercial advertising if there is no French version of the trade-mark.  The amended Regulation now requires that non-French trade-marks be accompanied by “a sufficient presence of French” on signs or posters outside buildings and structures, signs or posters displayed outside a premises situated in a mall, signs or posters inside a building or premises intended to be visible from the outside, and independent structures near a building if there is no other outside sign or poster displaying the non-French trademark.

A sufficient presence of French may be satisfied by:

  1. a generic term or a description of the products or services concerned in French;
  2. a slogan in French; or
  3. any other term or indication in French, favoring the display of information pertaining to the products or services to the benefit of consumers or persons frequenting the site.

Translation of non-French trade-marks into French is not required. 

Summary By: Lauren Lodenquai


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