Québec Government Proposes Amendments to the Regulations
of the Charter of the French Language
On May 4th, 2016, Hélène David, acting
Minister responsible for the protection and promotion of the French
Language, announced the Québec Government's draft
amendments to the Regulations of the Charter of the French
Language. The purpose of the amendments is to ensure the
presence of French when a trademark in a language other than French
is displayed on outside signs and posters. These amendments would
require businesses established in the Province of Québec who
have a non-French trademark to add a "sufficient presence of
French" to their outdoor signage.
The presence of French may take the form of (1) a generic term
or a description of the products or services concerned, (2) a
slogan, or (3) display information pertaining to the products or
services to the benefit of consumers or persons frequenting the
sites. However, the French cannot be business hours, telephone
numbers, addresses, numbers or percentages or a term requiring for
its legibility to be within a radius of less than 1 metre.
In addition, the Regulations stipulate that the display in
French must have the following characteristics: (1) it should give
French permanent visibility, similar to that of the trademark
displayed; and (2) it should ensure its legibility in the same
visual field as that mainly covered by the trademark signs or
posters. To illustrate these characteristics, the draft Regulations
state that the signs or posters in French in relation to the
trademark should be designed, lighted and situated as to make them
easy to read, both at the same time and at all times. For example,
the display in French should be lit at any time if the non-French
In summary, these amendments shall apply:
to all businesses having an establishment in
when there is a sign or poster of a trademark in a language
other than French;
in the absence of French message in the sign or poster;
when the non-French trademark appears:
on an exterior of a building, including the roof;
on a façade located inside a building or a shopping
inside a room or a building and it is intended to be seen from
on a bollard or any other independent structure;
For existing signs and posters, the Regulations provide for a
3-year period in order to proceed with the required
It shall be noted that there is 45-day public consultation
period on the expiry of which, the Government may make further
amendments to the draft Regulations. Once approved by the
Government, the Regulations will be published in the Gazette
officielle du Québec and will come into force on the
fifteenth day following such publication.
The Government announcement is a response to the recent debate
that opposed the Office Québecois de la Langue
Française (OQLF) and six major retailers. The
Québec Court of Appeal had decided, in April 2015, that
businesses could continue to use their non-French registered
trademarks on storefront signs without running afoul of the
provincial rules governing the language of business.
We invite you to look for our future bulletins and alerts for
additional information relating to the draft Regulations.
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