Trademark owners: Get ready for the changes to the Charter of the French language
Amendments to the Charter of the French language (the “Charter”) slated to come into force on June 1, 2025 will have major repercussions on trademark owners doing business in Quebec.
The Charter requires all product labelling and commercial signs in Quebec to be in French, other than certain exceptions for trademarks. Those requirements will be tightened starting June 1, 2025.
Your trademarks must be registered with the Registrar of Trademarks before the new provisions come into effect. It may be time for a full trademark audit, especially since current administrative delays mean that registering a trademark can take upwards of three years. While there are ways to expedite your trademark applications, you should get started now.
1. Product labels
If your trademarks appear on your products or any related materials, be aware that starting June 1, 2025:
a. They will have to be registered with the Registrar of Trademarks to avoid having to include a French-language version of the mark on every inscription on a product, on its container or on its wrapping, or on an object supplied with it, including the directions for use and the warranty certificates.
2. Outdoor commercial signage
If your business displays a trademark in a language other than French on 1) a building where it operates a storefront in Quebec, 2) in commercial advertising on billboards or any other sign visible from a public highway, be aware that starting June 1, 2025:
a. Your trademark will have to be registered with the Registrar of Trademarks to avoid having to include a French-language version of the mark on the signage
b. You will also have to include a descriptive or generic term in French (café, magasin, outils, logiciels, etc.) adjacent to the trademark that is at least twice the size of the non-French trademark.
Some signage requirements were already built into the Charter. What’s new are the requirements to register your trademark with the trademark office and to significantly increase the size of the French descriptive term (only for commercial signage). Since the descriptive term may currently be smaller than the trademark, most businesses will have to modify their commercial signage before June 1, 2025.