ID® TRADEMARK ARTICLES AND PUBLICATIONS

BILL 96 - HIGHLIGHTS

By Isabelle Deshaies

Bill 96, which came into force on June 1st, 2022, introduces significant changes to public signage and commercial advertising to which businesses will be required to comply within June 1st, 2025.   The following highlights show how these changes will impact trademarks.

Who is concerned by the new Bill?

Any person or company carrying on business in Quebec, whether having or not a commercial establishment in that province.

What is the purpose of the Bill?

Prioritizing the clear predominance of the French language in Quebec in public signage and commercial advertising.

What kind of public signage and commercial advertising does the Bill apply to?

Commercial signs, posters, promotional tools including work uniforms, vehicles, websites, amongst others, as well as packaging and products on which the mark is directly affixed.

What are the compliance requirements?

The clear predominance of the French language, e.g. non-francophone marks which are not registered with the Canadian Trademarks Office will have to be accompanied by their clearly predominant French translation.

As with respect to non-francophone registered trademarks, although their translation is not required, any non-francophone descriptive or generic term part of the mark will have to be translated into French. However, it will be mandatory to use the French version of the mark in the province of Quebec if it is registered with the Canadian trademarks Office.

In the case of public signage that also require a “sufficient” presence of French under the old regime, that presence must now be clearly predominant.

What is meant by the “clear predominance” of French?

In the case of public signage and commercial advertising, the general rule is that the text in French must be 2 times larger than the non-francophone text. In addition, there are specifications with respect to commercial posters.

What to do now?

Plan a budget to file used non-francophone marks with the Canadian Trademarks Office and to review and change the display, advertising, virtual presence of the mark, etc. to ensure that it complies with the new requirements.

Prioritize invented word elements when creating new marks and ensure they are not words in another language.

It should be noted that the current registration period for a trademark often exceeds 3 years, so that trademarks filed today and in the coming months may not be registered at the time of enforcement of the new provisions.

What are the possible exceptions?

The Trademarks Office provides an exception to expedite trademark registration proceedings when the mark is subject to a legal proceeding. Although this exception could be pleaded when the owner is sued by the State for infringing the Charter, the Office has not yet confirmed that it will treat these applications as an exception to expedite the proceeding.

How will these new provisions be enforced?

The OQLF should act only upon receipt of a complaint from the public and issue a notice with a fine and, in case of default, transfer the file to the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales who in turn may address the Court of Québec.

The OQLF will also have the power to issue order for the removal of goods not complying with the provisions and to seek an injunction from the Superior Court to remove or destroy goods, displays and any other good or material non complying with the provisions.

What can I do to find out more and ensure my trademark compliance?

Book a meeting with your trademark agent.

EXAMPLES OF SIGNS THAT WOULD
COMPLY TO THE BILL PROVISION

REGISTERED NON-FRENCH LANGUAGE TRADEMARK:

Mandatory clearly predominant French presence

BEFORE

DAIRY QUEEN ®

AFTER

DAIRY QUEEN ®

CRÈMERIE


REGISTERED MARK COMBINING
DESCRIPTIVE / GENERIC NON-FRENCH LANGUAGE TERMS:

Mandatory French translation of the
descriptive / generic non-French language terms

BEFORE

DAIRY QUEEN
ICE CREAM SNACK BAR ®

AFTER

DAIRY QUEEN
COMPTOIR DE CRÈME GLACÉE


NOT REGISTERED NON-FRENCH LANGUAGE TRADEMARK:

Mandatory clear predominant French translation

BEFORE

DAIRY QUEEN

AFTER

DAIRY QUEEN
REINE LAITIÈRE
CRÈMERIE


 

Don't hesitate to contact ID® TRADEMARK for more information regarding this topic.

This article does not constitute a legal opinion. Ask your registered trademark agent for more information.

© Isabelle Deshaies
June 2022

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