As recently announced on November 3, 2016 by the Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications and Minister responsible for the Protection and Promotion of the French Language, Mr. Luc Fortin, the amendments to the Regulation respecting the language of commerce and business of the Charter of the French language (the “Regulation”) were published yesterday in the Gazette Officielle du Québec.

Pursuant to these amendments, a trade mark displayed outside a building only in a language other than French will now request a sufficient presence of French. The presence of French refers to a sign or poster with (i) a generic term or a description of the products or services concerned, (ii) a slogan or (iii) any other term or indication, favouring the display of information pertaining to the products or services to the benefit of consumers or persons frequenting the site.

As a result, any person having as part of its public signage a trade-mark that is only in English will have to add one of the three above-mentioned elements to comply with the new rules. The amendments will enter into force on November 24, 2016. Existing signs and posters will need to be brought into conformity with the Regulation within 3 years after the entry into force of the Regulation.

In order to assist companies with the transition, the Office québécois de la langue française (the “OQLF”) published a guide (only available in French) that will be distributed to all companies in Quebec. Here is a summary of the key points of these guidelines:

The Regulation is applicable to public signage:

  • Displayed outside a building or premises located in a shopping center or in a commercial area;
  • Located inside a building or premises if it is intended to be seen from the outside; and
  • Located on an independent structure, including a totem-style structure.

The Regulation does not apply to:

  • A totem-style structure with more than two trade-marks;
  • An independent structure located near a building or premises when the trade-mark is displayed outside of the building or the premises;
  • A trade-mark displayed on a vehicle or a display stand; and
  • A trade-mark on a product, a catalog, a brochure or a pamphlet.

Do not constitute sufficient presence of French:

  • Opening hours, phone numbers and postal and electronic addresses;
  • Numbers and percentages;
  • Definite articles (“la”, “le”, “les”), indefinite articles (“un”, “une, “des”) and partitive article (“du”, “de”, “d’”, “de la”, “de l’a”, “des”); and
  • A term that is only readable within a distance of 1 meter except if it is also the case for the trade-mark.

To ensure a sufficient presence of French, the terms and messages must be:

  • Always readable and the visibility of the terms and messages must be similar;
  • Readable in the same field of vision as the trade-mark; and
  • Always well-lit if this is also the case for the trade-mark.

These amendments result from a 45-day consultation period that followed the publication of the draft amendment to the Regulation on May 4, 2016. Please see our previous blog for a deeper analysis of the modifications.