Québec Court of Appeal confirms right to use English trademarks on outdoor signage

01 April 2015

On April 27, 2015, the Québec Court of Appeal rendered its highly anticipated decision in the language of outdoor signage controversy that has been occupying many retailers in the province.

The Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the Attorney General of Quebec’s appeal and confirmed the Québec Superior Court’s April 2014 decision to the effect that the plaintiff retailers can rely on the “recognized” trademark exception and are not required to add French descriptors to non-French trademarks featured on storefront signage.

By way of background, on April 9, 2014, the Québec Superior Court granted a declaratory judgment in favour of eight of Québec’s leading retailers. The retailers had petitioned the Court to clarify whether their use of a non-French trademark on storefront signage violated the Charter of the French Language or its Regulation respecting the language of commerce and business.

The Québec Attorney General subsequently filed an appeal requesting that the Québec Court of Appeal reverse the judgment, and declare that the use of a trademark on outdoor signage constituted the use of a business name, requiring French descriptors. This week, the Quebec Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and confirmed the judgment of the Quebec Superior Court.

To read the official written judgment, click here.

See also: Québec appeals Superior Court judgment granting retailers the right to display their English trademarks on storefront signage


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