Quebec Court: Canada’s Kinda Bilingual

Previously, CanadaFashionLaw covered retailers’ challenge to the Office Quebecois de la Langue Francaise (basically, the French language police).

The Quebec Superior Court issued their decision last week which put the reins on the French language police.

Public signage and marketing in Quebec is regulated by the Quebec Charter of French Language.  The French Charter requires that signage/commercial advertisements be predominantly in French.  However, there are exceptions when trade-marks are involved.  Generally, where the trade-mark is registered in English, the brand owner is not required to display the French equivalent.  In a recent decision that was issued last week, the Superior Court of Quebec held that a non-French trade-mark does not need to be accompanied with a French descriptor.  However, if the French equivalent is also a registered trade-mark, the brand owner is required to use the French version.

Ultimately, it is a business decision on whether your company wishes to register the French version.  If there are strong ties to the Quebec culture, using the French equivalent will certainly assist in fostering better relations with the Quebecois.  If, however, Quebec is a secondary market, it may streamline your company’s marketing materials by not registering in French as well.

Canada Reintroduces Anti-Counterfeiting Legislation

Canada’s legislature is mulling over new legislation that could assist in managing the influx of counterfeit product entering into Canada. The Bill was originally introduced as Bill C-56, entitled “Combating Counterfeit Products Act” and had to be reintroduced as Bill C-8, as Parliament was forced to reconvene. Given that this is the 2nd time around for this legislation, it is expected to pass through relatively quickly.

The bill proposes to amend the Copyright Act and Trade-marks Act. The more salient proposed amendments include:

  • allowing brand owners to register trade-marks with the border customs to enable them to seize incoming counterfeit goods
  • expanding the definition of trade-marks to include non-traditional trade-mark protection
  • streamline the trade-mark prosecution process to allow for divisionals

Now that Bill C-8 is in committee, it is hopeful that some of the practical kinks will be ironed out.

Stay tuned to CanadaFashionLaw for updates!

Canada and Europe Cozy Up

Canada and the European Union have been working together to come up with a trade agreement that could present great opportunities for Canadian businesses.  In essence, trade agreements function to reduce barriers in the marketplace.

Although not finalized, Canada and Europe have come together to create Canada-EU: Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (“CETA”).  The specifics of the agreement are still being ironed out and the details are under wraps.  This means that there are a still a lot of unknowns.  However, it does seem promising.

If CETA does go through, a 2008 study predicts that there will be 80,000 new jobs created in Canada, which could contribute an additional $12 billion to the economy.  That sounds pretty attractive!  If ratified, CETA would allow for a significant drop in tariffs for Canadian goods and services entering the European market.

But let’s not count our low-tariff chickens before they hatch.  There’s a lot of heavy lifting required to bring an agreement like this into effect.  Some of the specific terms still need to be negotiated (not an easy feat), the agreement needs to be translated into 22(!) languages and then both governments need to formally adopt the agreement.  It/when the agreement is ratified, the agreement will not come into effect for some years to come.

As always, CanadaFashionLaw will keep you posted.