On June 17, 2015, Quebec's Minister for Culture and Communications announced that it will take a legislative route to compel retailers to add a French description to their nonFrench trademarks displayed on exterior signage in Quebec. The statement was made moments after the Quebec Attorney General announced that it would not be seeking leave to appeal the Court of Appeal's recent decision in Quebec (Attorney General) v. Best Buy Ltd. That decision, which was released in April 2015, had confirmed that under the Charter of the French Language and its corresponding regulations, businesses had no obligation to add a French language description to their trademarks displayed exclusively in a language other than French on public signs and posters and in commercial advertising in Quebec, so long as no French version of the mark was registered. Our firm has been following this case closely, and we invite you to consult some of our previous articles on this topic.
The Quebec government says that it will table amendments to the Regulation Respecting the Language of Commerce and Business as early as autumn 2015 that will seek to promote the visibility of the French language in Quebec without seeking to alter the original trademark. Although it is not yet confirmed what the new requirements will be, the government suggested that they will not be asking businesses to translate their trademarks into French but may require the addition of either a French language inscription to describe the goods and services, a slogan, or a genericdescriptor in French. The Minister offered the example of "Les Café Starbucks" as an example of a generic descriptor or "Starbucks, Le meilleur café au Québec" as an example of a slogan. The government also indicated that its intention is to focus on the laws pertaining to exterior signs, not indoor signs, and that once the amendments are proposed, interested parties will have 45 days to submit comments.
We will watch for further developments and share them as they become available.