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Québec Superior Court Rejects OQLF's Interpretation of the Charter

April 9, 2014

By François Larose and Brigitte Chan

The Quebec Superior Court confirmed today, in a long-awaited decision, that non-French trademarks on store-front signage do not need to be accompanied by a French descriptor of the nature of the business.

In October 2012, several multinational companies including Best Buy, Gap, Old Navy, Wal-Mart and Costco sought a declaratory judgment against the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) and Québec's Procureur général (PG)'s interpretation that display of a trademark on store-front signage is use of a trade name, that according to Quebec's Charter of the French Language and its regulations, requires the addition of a French descriptor if the name is not in French.

Businesses closely followed this matter as the OQLF's interpretation could impact global branding strategy and lead to significant expenses. However, in today's decision, the Court clearly rejected the OQLF's interpretation after a careful review of the context, history and intent of the Charter and its regulations, and further held that trademarks and trade names are two separate legal notions.

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François Larose François Larose
B.A.A., LL.L., LL.M.
514.871.2109  email François Larose
Brigitte Chan Brigitte Chan
LL.L., LL.B.
514.871.2920  email Brigitte Chan