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 French.
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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