Development in the French Language in Canada

Historically, in the province of Quebec, store signs were allowed to be in English only if the name was trademarked.  However, on May 4, 2016, the Quebec provincial government introduced draft regulations proposing amendments to the Charter of the French Language, also known as Bill 101.  These amendments would require public signage that displays English trademarks to also include a French description of the business or another presence of French within the signage.

Under these new proposed amendments, businesses will still be able to use their recognized trademarks in a language other than French but will however need to demonstrate a “sufficient presence of French”.  This means either a generic term of the product, a slogan or any other term that may be deemed sufficient by the government.  It is important to note that Trademark law is a federal responsibility, however, the government hopes to frame the regulation as a Commerce issue making it a provincial responsibility.  This being said, the French language can be found all across Canada and it is reasonable to believe that this could very well affect the rest of the provinces in the future.

Existing businesses will have three years to comply with the new regulations once they are officially adopted.  The public and interested stakeholders are invited to participate in the consultation and can  submit written comments up until June 18, 2016 to Hélène David, the Minister of Culture and Communications.

This development is of interest to us because product labels follow the same rules.  A product name does not have to be translated into French if it is trademarked.  We have no evidence that this may find a place within the cosmetic, natural health, medical device, or consumer product industries, however this is an important development that we will follow closely.

We hope that this information is helpful to you and your company.  Focal Point Research are industry leading Health Canada consultants and work very closely with these type of products and regulations.  You can trust FPR to help guide your company in the right direction.