Canada: Quebec Publishes Draft Regulations Requiring The Presence Of French On Outdoor Signs

On May 4, 2016, the Government of Quebec published proposed Regulations that aim to ensure there is "a sufficient presence of French" on the outdoor signage of establishments on which trademarks appear in a language other than French. These proposed Regulations would amend current Regulations under the Charter of the French Language (Charter) and would require Quebec businesses using non-French trademarks on their outdoor signs to ensure that some French content is also present.

The proposed Regulations are subject to a public consultation period until June 18, 2016, and may still be amended. Once published, the final version of the proposed Regulations should generally come into force within 15 days of such publication for new signs or replacement signs. However, some signs (including existing signs) would benefit from a grace period of three years.


The proposed draft Regulations follow a 2012 decision by the Court of Appeal of Quebec that confirmed that under the current legislative text, and contrary to the position then advocated by the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF), a recognised trademark in a language other than French does not have to be accompanied by a generic term or expression in French when appearing on storefronts signs. The Quebec government is now proposing to amend the relevant regulations in an effort to ensure the visibility of French throughout the province.

As a general rule, the current provisions of the Charter and its Regulations require inscriptions on public signs to appear in French, with an exception for recognized trademarks that may appear in a language other than French as long as no French version of the trademark has been registered. These principles will continue to apply, but additional requirements will govern the use of non-French trademarks outside of an immovable (or building), such as on storefront signage, on an independent structure, on roof top signs, on signage located inside a building, mall or a shopping center, or on signs or posters inside a building intended to be seen from outside.


The proposed Regulations state that in cases where non-French trademarks appear, a "sufficient presence of French" must also be ensured. This presence of French may be ensured by way of a generic term or description of the products and/or services concerned, a French slogan or any other term or description (with a preference for the display of information pertaining to the products or services to the benefit of consumers or other persons frequenting the site). Some elements, such as French inscriptions relating to opening hours, telephone numbers, addresses, numbers and percentages, will not be taken into account in this assessment.

In order for these French inscriptions to be considered sufficient, they must be permanently visible and shown in the same visual field as the sign or poster bearing the non-French trademark. Signage will be considered as complying with these requirements if the French inscription is designed, lighted and situated so that both the inscription and the trademark are legible together at all times when the trademarks is visible. The inscription does not necessarily have to appear in the same place, for the same number of times or in the same material or size as the trademark.

The legibility of the French inscription will be assessed based on the location of the trademark. If the sign or poster on which the mark appears is located on the outside of a building along a sidewalk, legibility will be assessed from the sidewalk along the façade on which the trademark appears; If it is within a larger building or a shopping mall, legibility will be assessed from the center of the alley or area facing the premises; or if it is visible from a highway, from such highway. If it is necessary to be within one meter to read an inscription, this inscription will not be taken into account unless the same is true for the trademark.

The French inscriptions must ensure permanent visibility, and will therefore not be compliant if they are precarious in nature (due to the materials used or the manner in which they are posted, for example, if the French inscriptions can be easily removed, unless the system used guarantees their presence or replacement).

The proposed Regulations specify that these rules would not apply to temporary or seasonal stands or kiosks or to totem-type structures bearing two or more trademarks. Totem-like or other independent structures near a building or premises are not subject to these rules unless there is no other outside sign or poster on which the trademark appears.


In light of these proposed Regulations, businesses should give serious consideration to the changes that may be required to their outdoor signs, and to any signs visible from the outdoor, and to any trademark protection that they may wish to seek with respect to French language additions. In doing so, it will be important to keep in mind that the current "recognized trademark exception" outlined above will continue to apply, including with respect to inscriptions on products, their labelling and packaging, that it will remain applicable only to the extent that no French version of a recognized trademark has been registered in Canada. It will be important to ensure that a coherent strategy is put in place to provide adequate protection for marks and slogans used on outdoor signs while ensuring compliance with all other obligations under the Charter.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
27 Oct 2016, Seminar, Toronto, Canada

Please join members of the Blakes Commercial Real Estate group as they discuss five key provisions of a commercial real estate purchase agreement that are often the subject of much negotiation but are sometimes misunderstood.

1 Nov 2016, Seminar, Toronto, Canada

What is the emotional culture of your organization?

Every organization and workplace has an emotional culture that can have an impact on everything from employee performance to customer or client satisfaction.

3 Nov 2016, Seminar, Toronto, Canada

Join leading lawyers from the Blakes Pensions, Benefits & Executive Compensation group as they discuss recent updates and legal developments in pension and employee benefits law as well as strategies to identify and minimize common risks.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.