March 1, 2024

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In Quebec, English is asked to be small in shop windows

In Quebec, English is asked to be small in shop windows

In Quebec, all company brands are up to 1R By June 2025, a regulation published on January 10 required French to display twice as much French on their storefronts as English. Certainly, if Starbucks wanted to keep its name on its windows without reducing their size, it should have the word “coffee” equally flanked on both sides of the brand name. Canadian tire stores certainly don't have to rename themselves “Le Pneu canadienne,” but the brand name should appear smaller than the “store” inscription, which is now necessary.

Fighting against the encroaching presence of English

The regulation is a new twist on the screw that Quebec envisioned to strengthen the protection of the French language in businesses: until now, trademarks registered in English have not been affected. ” Like all Quebecers, when I see too much English, it bothers me. I say to myself: “I'm not in Boston, I'm in Montreal. I'm in the only French-speaking state in North America, and I have to show it!” “, Recently announced by the Minister of French Language, Jean-François Roberge.

The government is reacting to signs of declining French in public. The Office québécois de la langue française, which ensures that it is the only language used in this French-speaking (non-bilingual) province, has never received as many complaints as last year to condemn offenders. One in five are about public signs and more than a third report violations of language used in businesses. Recently, the province's public wine regulator, the Société des alcools du Québec, reminded employees not to tell “Hello hello!” »But just ” good morning ! “.

Cost in sight for American brands

A simple walk down a commercial artery like Sainte-Catherine Street in Montreal indicates significant changes ahead for American brands. Small businesses like Ye Olde Orchard Irish pub in Montreal rebranded themselves after a complaint to comply with the new rules. His new name? “Orchard Public House”.

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For these companies, adaptation has a certain cost. According to Elian Elbogen, a lawyer specializing in intellectual property rights, “It can go up to $100,000 per store for big brands.”. “Every day we are called to ask us how to interpret the new rules”, continues Eliane Elbogen, who says she senses a lot of anxiety among her English-speaking clients. And some companies say they don't want to locate in Quebec because of these tighter standards.

Last week, the US government itself expressed its questions to Ottawa about the new regulation. In a press release, the Office of the US Trade Representative discusses it “concerns” Regarding potential consequences for US SMEs established in Quebec.