A series of anglophone merchants in Quebec were charged with violating the Charter of the French Language. The charges included failing to respect the marked predominance of the French language on bilingual signs, not including French on signs at all, and providing goods and services over the internet only in English. While many defences were raised, we shall address the defence of the use of a trademark (starting at para. 104).
The court of Quebec noted that section 28 of the Charter of the French Language permits advertising in a language other than French when it is using a recognized trademark within the meaning of the Trade-marks Act, unless a French version has also been registered.
None of the impugned trademarks were registered. However, a prior decision of the Superior Court of Quebec had found that common law trademarks could be exempt from the Charter of the French Language. In this case, the Court found that there needed to be sufficient evidence to support the finding of a common law trade-mark. Where the evidence was found to support a common law trade-mark, the exception to the Charter of the French Language applied and the charge was dropped.