Québec Signage Issue - Appeal Dismissed from the Bench
In connection with the decision of Magasins Best Buy Ltée, Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd. et al v. Québec (Procureur général), 2014 QCCS 1427 described in the post entitled “Doing Business in Quebec: Does the Charter of the French Language Prevent the Use of Trade-Marks in Languages other than French in Signs, Posters and Advertising?” posted in April 2014, the Québec Court of Appeal recently concluded that the Charter of the French language (the “Charter”) does not allow the Office québécois de la langue française (“OQLF”) to require retailers to add a French descriptor to their English trade-marks.
The decision dismissed the Government of Québec’s appeal of a judgement rendered by the Québec Superior Court in April 2014, whereby the Québec Superior Court ruled that there was no obligation for retailers under the Charter to add generic French terms to registered trade-marks which are exclusively in another language, when a French version of the trade-mark has not been registered. Such ruling was the result of an action launched by a group of multinational retailers seeking a declaratory judgment which included Best Buy, Costco Wholesale, Guess, Toys “R” Us and Walmart, following the OQLF’s reinterpretation of the trade-mark exception under the Regulation Respecting the Language of Commerce and Business, which required “trade names” not in French to include a generic French term, or otherwise be altered to include or give prominence to French. The Superior Court held that the OQLF’s interpretation of the trademark exception does apply to the use of trade-marks on public signs and that the public display of a trade-mark in a language other than French that has no registered French equivalent does not violate the Charter.
The appeal was heard on April 27, 2015 and immediately dismissed from the bench. A written decision will follow.
For more information on the Québec Superior Court decision, please refer to the post entitled “Permitted Exclusive Use of English Trademarks in Québec: Magasins Best Buy Ltée, Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd. et al v. Québec” posted in April 2014.
Bill 101 Charter of the French Language Office québécois de la langue française Regulation Respecting the Language of Commerce and Business The Usage of French in Enterprises: Bill 14 Trade Marks Act