The Office québécois de la langue
française (the Office) announced on June 1, 2012,
that starting this summer, it would conduct investigations on its
own initiative to identify businesses that are non-compliant with
the public signage provisions of the Charter of the French
Language (the Charter) and request that they make the
It also indicated that "it was time for the Office to
initiate other steps against businesses that refuse to post their
trade name in compliance with the Charter." The Office
is referring to its recent campaign to convince
businesses operating in Québec that use of English-only
trademarks on store-front signage must include a French generic
word or expression that describes the business. The
Office's justification is that while the Charter and its
Regulation respecting the language of commerce and
business provide that a recognized trademark may be
exclusively in a language other than French, the Charter also
requires that a business name be in French or, if its distinctive
feature is in another language, it must be accompanied by a French
generic descriptor. It is the Office's view that
store-front signage displays a business name, and must therefore be
accompanied by a French generic descriptor if not already
In view of this announcement, businesses in Québec
posting English-only trademarks on their store-front signage should
anticipate more attention from the Office and the risk of a
citation requiring changes, even if no complaint from consumers has
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