The Charter, adopted in 1977, establishes French as the official
language of the province of Quebec, and governs its use in a wide
range of activities, including in areas such as education,
employment and business and commerce.
With respect to its application to business and commerce, the
basic rule is that public signs, posters and commercial advertising
must be in French. There are exceptions to the general rule that
apply. For example, the Regulation respecting the language of
commerce and business (the
Regulation), provides that a recognized trade-mark
within the meaning of the Trade-marks Act (Canada) may
appear exclusively in a language other than French on public signs
and posters and in commercial advertising, unless a French version
of such trade-mark has been registered.
The Office has taken the position that when a trade-mark in a
language other than in French is being used as the name of a
business on public signs, such signs must be accompanied by a
French slogan or by adding a generic French word which describes
In this regard, many businesses have been receiving letters from
the Office asking that they adhere to the rules of the Charter and
modify their public signs by adding a generic French word to
trade-marks posted exclusively in English. The Office is also
offering financial support to businesses which employ five (5) to
ninety nine (99) employees to help cover some of the costs
associated with making such changes to their public signs, and
this, up to seventy five percent (75%) of the costs incurred to
make such changes, to a maximum of $50,000.
In light of this campaign being launched by the Office, and its
determination to have businesses adhere to their position,
businesses who currently post exclusively an English trade-mark can
expect to receive this letter from the Office in the near
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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A recent Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench decision allowed a court-appointed receiver to sell and transfer intellectual property rights free and clear of encumbrances, finding that a license to use improvements of an invention was a contractual interest and not a property interest.
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