IP Update

By Sepal Bonni

Jan 2024 Charity & NFP Law Update
Published on January 31, 2024



Quebec Releases Draft Regulations Relating to Charter of the French Language

On January 10, 2024, the Quebec government published the draft Regulation to amend mainly the Regulation respecting the language of commerce and business (the “Regulation”). If passed, the Regulation will amend the Quebec Charter of the French Language (the “Charter”) and the current regulations. The Regulation provides some guidance on the recent amendments to the Charter that were introduced by Bill 96, which was previously discussed in the June 2022 Charity & NFP Law Update.

The Regulation includes the following changes which charities and NFPs in Quebec should be mindful of:

Non-French Trademarks Appearing on Products

 Bill 96 indicates that only non-French “registered trademarks” (for which there is no French registered version of the trademark) may appear on “products”. The Regulation clarifies that a “product” includes its container, wrapping and any document or object supplied with it. Importantly, it also expands on the definition of “registered trademark” to include any pending trademark application that is filed with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

Bill 96 indicates that if an exempt non-French “registered trademark” on a product includes a non-French “generic term or a description of a product”, the generic term or description will have to appear in French elsewhere on the product. The Regulation defines define a “generic term” as “one or more words describing the nature of a product” and “description” of the product as “one or more words describing the characteristics of the product.” It also clarifies that no generic term or product description included in a non-French trademark may be given greater prominence than that in French or be available on more favourable terms.

The Regulation grants a two-year extension to comply with relevant trademark provisions to products manufactured before June 1, 2025 which do not have a registered French version of the trademark. This will allow products not meeting the requirements to be distributed and offered for sale until June 1, 2027.

Public Signage

For public signage, the definition of “registered trademark” remains the same. That is, non-French trademarks on pubic signs and in commercial advertising are only permitted if the trademark is registered with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, and no corresponding French version exists. The definition has not been expanded to include trademark applications as it has for products.

Bill 96 mandated that when signage that is visible from outside premises, even if the trademark is registered, the trademark must be accompanied by French text that is “markedly predominant”. The French text could include a generic term, a description of the products or services considered, or a slogan. The Regulation states that the “markedly prominent” tthreshold will be met where “the text in French has a much greater visual impact than the text in the other language.” The Regulation also clarifies that in order to have a “much greater visual impact”, (1) the French text must be twice as large as the non-French text, and (2) the legibility and permanent visibility of the French text must be equivalent to those of the non-French text.

It must be noted that the Regulation is under consultation until February 24, 2024 and could be revised in the coming weeks. Should the Regulation come into force, there it will have a significant impact on any charity or not-for-profit which operates in Quebec.


​ ​Read the January 2024 Charity & NFP Law Update