From November 24, 2019, any display of a trademark in a name that is not in French must comply with the new provisions of the “Regulation Respecting the Language of Commerce and Business.”

Does this mean that small and medium businesses, just like multinationals, will have to change their names? Does Best Buy display a yellow tag that says “Meilleur Achat?” Will we see Second Cup offer Americano in a cup with the effigy of “La Seconde Coupe?” What is the scope of this new regulation?

Here are the 4 main principles to understand and respect when it comes to branding in Quebec:

1. The Trademark

The new regulation aims at the display of trademarks and not company names. A trademark may be registered in a name other than French, however, the opposite is not true for the company name. If that sentence just tied a knot in your brain, you aren’t the only one. To clarify: when a company conducts business in Quebec, the name of the company must have a French version registered. If you own a trademark, you won’t have to create a French version in order to have your trademark exist in Quebec.

2. The Rule

The new regulation is aimed at the display of trademarks outside the premises of the business or at least the posting that is visible from outside the store. So we think of any sign on the façade of the business, any display in its windows, and any display on an external terminal (like a sign) or an independent structure near the place of business.

3. The Exception

The new regulations do not apply to displays on automobiles, display stands, individual products, brochures and external terminals or independent structures near the business when there are more than two trademarks on this structure or when this structure is located in front of the external display of the same trademark. Again, if that sentence tied a knot in your brain, here is the simplified form: the Redbull Mini-Cooper will remain the same, signage outside of your favourite mall will stay the same, assuming there are at least two stores inside, but you may see some changes to the front of your favourite trademarked stores.

Does this mean Best Buy will have another line of text on the big yellow tag that says “Meilleur-Achat?” Possibly.

4. In Real Life?

To comply, we must make sure to respect the rule following the basic principle: to ensure clear visibility of the French language. It’s easy to do, especially if you match to your trademark (whose name is in another language than French), a slogan or a description (in French) of the products or services offered by your company. In addition, any other reference to products or services intended for consumers – if this statement is written in French and is visually more significant than the trademark – will meet the new regulatory requirements.

As a result, you can expect to see several retouched storefronts, as opposed to completely new, translated names and logos. For example, names such as: “Les Magasins Best-Buy,” or “Les Cafés Second Cup,” comply with the new provisions of the Regulation on the Language of Commerce and Business.

In case of doubt about the subjection of your company to the new regulations, the Force-Legal team will be happy to assist you and advise you accordingly!

Photo Credit: Huffington Post 2016