Dentons

International Top 30 position: 4

The recent decision of the Superior Court on the display of trademarks will be appealed

On 9 April 2014, the Honorable Michel Yergeau of the Superior Court of Quebec rendered a much awaited judgment on the controversial issue of trademark displays in a language other than French. On 8 May, the government of Quebec decided to appeal this judgment.

Since its adoption in Quebec in 1977, the Charter of the French Language has been at the centre of much controversy. Adopted in an effort to protect the vulnerable nature of the French language in Quebec, the charter requires that any public sign, poster, commercial advertising or inscriptions on products and the publication of brochures, catalogues, folders, commercial directories or any similar publication be in French, or predominantly in French. However, the regulation respecting the language of commerce and business provides an exception to this general rule by accepting the use of a registered trademark that is not in French. Indeed, a trademark in a language other than French can be used in Quebec, provided that no French version of the trademark has been registered with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO).

Until 2010, the Office québécois de la langue française interpreted the regulation as allowing for non-French trademarks to be displayed in public, without requiring any addition of French terms. However, in the recent years, the office modified its interpretation of the exception contained in the regulation, resulting in a potential conflict between the regulation and certain rights granted under the federal trademarks legislation…

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