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The Canadian province of Québec is proudly francophone. Yet, Québec is surrounded by significant anglophone populations on all sides. Canada’s other 9 provinces, 3 territories and the USA which borders Québec to the south, are all English speaking.

To protect the French language, the Québec government adopted the Charter of the French Language in 1977. It seeks to make French the language of the government and law, as well as the everyday language of work, education, and business. It does this by, among other measures, imposing a range of requirements on the use of the French language.

On 24 May 2022, the National Assembly of Québec adopted Bill 96 to implement wide-ranging amendments to the Charter of French Language (Charter), coming into force in tranches between 1 June 2022 and 1 June 2025. This includes a range of measures that will come into effect on 1 June 2025, affecting Australian businesses seeking to export their goods or services to Québec.

While 1 June 2025 may seem a long time away, it is an imminent deadline for Australian businesses seeking to be able to use their trade marks in Québec, Canada after the Charter is fully implemented.  This is because trade mark applications are taking anywhere from at least two years to over three years to attain registration in Canada.

language of business and commerce amendments

Even before the Bill 96 amendments, the Charter had imposed requirements on the use of French in commerce. Section 58 requires commercial advertising to be in French. On bilingual signs, French must predominate.

However, from 1 June 2025, the following two amendments will take effect which will have a significant impact on how businesses are able to use their trade marks in Québec (incidentally, French language on packaging, in manuals, warranty documents, etc is already a requirement from 1 June 2022).

  1. Trade marks on goods and packaging

From 1 June 2025, all trade marks on goods, and their packaging, must display those trade marks in French, unless:

  • that trade mark is registered; and
  • there is no French version of the trade mark in existence.

Additionally, generic terms, and descriptions of the product, included in the trade mark must also appear in French. For example, the “APPLE WATCH” trade mark of Apple Inc would likely need to appear as “APPLE HORLOGE” or “APPLE MONTRE”, as “watch” is a purely descriptive part of that trade mark.

  1. Commercial advertising

From 1 June 2025, commercial advertising, public signs, and posters will need to display any trade marks in French. Again, there will be an exemption where:

  • the trade mark is registered; and
  • there is no French version of the trade mark in existence.

need to register trade marks

Businesses that export or intend to export their products to Québec, Canada should consider whether they need to register their trade marks in Canada.  This should not be an issue if the trade mark is a logo, shape or colour trade mark, or consists only of made up words (eg Exxon, Xerox, etc).  However, if the trade mark contains any words that have a meaning in a language other than French, that trade mark should be registered to avoid situations like Apple becoming Pomme, or Rio Tinto (meaning “red river” in Portuguese) becoming Rivière Rouge.

reason for urgency

As mentioned above, while 1 June 2025 is just under 3 years away, trade mark applications lodged in Canada currently experience a waiting period of more than 39 months before examination occurs. Even though that delay drops to approximately 2 years if the application utilises the Canadian Intellectual Property Office’s pre-approved list of goods and services, that waiting time is still significant.

This means that should trade mark protection not be sought in Canada prior to December 2022, it is unlikely to be registered prior to the Charter provisions being fully implemented.

take-away points

Businesses exporting or considering exporting their goods or services to Québec, Canada should urgently consider registering their trade marks in Canada now.  Waiting until closer to 1 June 2025 is unlikely to allow sufficient time for trade mark registrations to be finalised, which would be rather merde.

The Macpherson Kelley IP team is experienced in assisting our clients to register their trade marks in Canada, either working directly with our Canadian associates or utilising the Madrid Protocol. Contact us if a future in Canada is on your business radar.

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Register your canadian trade marks now or go french in 2025

09 June 2022
nils versemann

The Canadian province of Québec is proudly francophone. Yet, Québec is surrounded by significant anglophone populations on all sides. Canada’s other 9 provinces, 3 territories and the USA which borders Québec to the south, are all English speaking.

To protect the French language, the Québec government adopted the Charter of the French Language in 1977. It seeks to make French the language of the government and law, as well as the everyday language of work, education, and business. It does this by, among other measures, imposing a range of requirements on the use of the French language.

On 24 May 2022, the National Assembly of Québec adopted Bill 96 to implement wide-ranging amendments to the Charter of French Language (Charter), coming into force in tranches between 1 June 2022 and 1 June 2025. This includes a range of measures that will come into effect on 1 June 2025, affecting Australian businesses seeking to export their goods or services to Québec.

While 1 June 2025 may seem a long time away, it is an imminent deadline for Australian businesses seeking to be able to use their trade marks in Québec, Canada after the Charter is fully implemented.  This is because trade mark applications are taking anywhere from at least two years to over three years to attain registration in Canada.

language of business and commerce amendments

Even before the Bill 96 amendments, the Charter had imposed requirements on the use of French in commerce. Section 58 requires commercial advertising to be in French. On bilingual signs, French must predominate.

However, from 1 June 2025, the following two amendments will take effect which will have a significant impact on how businesses are able to use their trade marks in Québec (incidentally, French language on packaging, in manuals, warranty documents, etc is already a requirement from 1 June 2022).

  1. Trade marks on goods and packaging

From 1 June 2025, all trade marks on goods, and their packaging, must display those trade marks in French, unless:

  • that trade mark is registered; and
  • there is no French version of the trade mark in existence.

Additionally, generic terms, and descriptions of the product, included in the trade mark must also appear in French. For example, the “APPLE WATCH” trade mark of Apple Inc would likely need to appear as “APPLE HORLOGE” or “APPLE MONTRE”, as “watch” is a purely descriptive part of that trade mark.

  1. Commercial advertising

From 1 June 2025, commercial advertising, public signs, and posters will need to display any trade marks in French. Again, there will be an exemption where:

  • the trade mark is registered; and
  • there is no French version of the trade mark in existence.

need to register trade marks

Businesses that export or intend to export their products to Québec, Canada should consider whether they need to register their trade marks in Canada.  This should not be an issue if the trade mark is a logo, shape or colour trade mark, or consists only of made up words (eg Exxon, Xerox, etc).  However, if the trade mark contains any words that have a meaning in a language other than French, that trade mark should be registered to avoid situations like Apple becoming Pomme, or Rio Tinto (meaning “red river” in Portuguese) becoming Rivière Rouge.

reason for urgency

As mentioned above, while 1 June 2025 is just under 3 years away, trade mark applications lodged in Canada currently experience a waiting period of more than 39 months before examination occurs. Even though that delay drops to approximately 2 years if the application utilises the Canadian Intellectual Property Office’s pre-approved list of goods and services, that waiting time is still significant.

This means that should trade mark protection not be sought in Canada prior to December 2022, it is unlikely to be registered prior to the Charter provisions being fully implemented.

take-away points

Businesses exporting or considering exporting their goods or services to Québec, Canada should urgently consider registering their trade marks in Canada now.  Waiting until closer to 1 June 2025 is unlikely to allow sufficient time for trade mark registrations to be finalised, which would be rather merde.

The Macpherson Kelley IP team is experienced in assisting our clients to register their trade marks in Canada, either working directly with our Canadian associates or utilising the Madrid Protocol. Contact us if a future in Canada is on your business radar.