The grace period for retailers with storefronts in the province of Quebec is coming to a close. By November 24, 2019, a generic or descriptive French term(s) or slogan must accompany all public signs displaying a non-French trademark. These requirements apply to signs displaying trademarks located on the outside of the building, indoor signs visible from the outside and signs inside a building or shopping center.
Of course, certain scenarios are exempt. For instance, trademarks appearing on products, brochures, vehicles or product display stands do not require a French description. It is important to note that the Charter of the French language (“Charter”) requires a French message or term that identifies the store’s products or service offerings. The Charter does not require a direct French translation of the trademark.
On the other hand, the visibility of the French message or term must be similar to that of the non-French trademark and meet the conditions set out in the Charter. For example, if the non-French trademark is well-lit at all times, the accompanying French wording must also be illuminated. In essence, the French slogan or message’s design, positioning and illumination should ensure that a consumer or passerby can easily read the French message in conjunction with the trademark at all times. To assist Quebec businesses with this endeavor, the Office de la langue Française, the Charter’s regulator, published guidelines that provide additional detail and examples of sufficient visibility and visual perspective.
By way of background, the Quebec government declared the coming into force of the signage changes under the Charter on November 23, 2016. Since then, businesses with a physical presence in Quebec were given a three-year grace period.
As this leeway time comes to an end, all companies in Quebec should evaluate their signage for compliance.