Quebec appeals ruling, demands retailers translate English-only trademarks
Customers walk out of Costco in Montreal on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. (Ryan Remiorz / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, May 9, 2014 1:02PM EDT
The province of Quebec is pursuing an appeal to have retailers in the province with English-language trademarks translate their outdoor signs into French.
The move comes after Quebec’s Superior Court ruled last month that English retailers do not need to translate their trademarks in accordance with Quebec’s French language laws.
The court decision, delivered on Apr. 9, came out of a court challenge from Best Buy, Costco, Wal-Mart, the Gap, Old Navy, Guess, Toys “R” Us and Curves. The Quebec government wanted those companies to use French versions of their store names, or add a French word before the name to describe the service, in cases where no French equivalent of the word exists.
In their 2012 court challenge, the retailers said the office in charge of promoting Quebec’s French language laws overstepped its boundaries in demanding the signage changes. Under the province’s language law, corporate trademarks are exempt from the rule that commercial signage be in French.
In its Apr. 9 decision, the court ruled that Quebec’s Office of the French Language could not punish companies for refusing to change their names.
The province of Quebec wants that ruling overturned.
Some companies in Quebec already change their names for franchises located there. Kentucky Fried Chicken, for example, goes by Poulet Frit Kentucky in all of its Quebec locations.