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Amendments to Trademark Laws

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Nov 22, 2016 (Newsletter Issue 21/16)
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Non-French TMs on Public Signs to be Accompanied by French Description

The Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications has announced that proposed amendments to the regulations under the Charter of the French Language will come into force on November 24, 2016. The amendments are intended to ensure the presence of French language on the storefront of businesses that display non-French trademarks on public signs, while purporting to respect the trademark exception.

The amendments provide that where a non-French trademark appears on a public sign, such must be accompanied by a generic term or a description of the products or services concerned, a slogan or any other indication in French informing consumers and passersby of the products or services offered. An appropriate display would give a permanent visibility to French, similar to that of the non-French trademark displayed and also be legible together with the non-French trademark. However, the display in the French language is not required to be at the same place, in the same number, in the same materials or in the same size as the non-French trademark.

The new regulations will apply to all new signage as of November 24, 2016. For existing signage, the regulations provide a 3-year grace period for business owners to comply.

For more information, please check here.

In parallel, the Office québecois de la langue française has prepared two illustrative guides that will be distributed to all businesses in Quebec. The first guide specifically deals with the display of trademarks, including the obligations with regard to the public display of trademarks exclusively in a language other than French, while the second guide addresses the general linguistic obligations of businesses.

Source: Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh, Canada