By: Christopher Chiavatti (IP Lawyer) & Greg Parth (Summer Student)
Quebec’s recently passed Bill 96 strengthens requirements for the use of French, including for businesses operating in Quebec. In this article, we highlight three areas to which businesses will want to pay particular attention:
- Trademarks; and
The use of non-French trademarks in Quebec should also be reviewed. Bill 96 will change where and how all non-French trademarks can be displayed. Some trademarks may require translation into their French equivalent.
Unregistered trademarks (i.e., common-law trademarks) will be more restricted than marks registered with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. If your business is using unregistered non-French marks, consider seeking trademark registration to preserve more flexibility. These requirements will not come into effect until June 1, 2025. However, trademark users will want plenty of time to get their trademarks through the application and registration process.
Bill 96 significantly increases penalties for failing to meet French-language requirements. Businesses will face a minimum fine of $3,000 and a maximum fine of $30,000. However, these amounts will double for a second offence and triple for third and subsequent offences.
Even harsher, however, is that each day of non-compliance is considered a new offence. A business that violates French-language requirements for three days could be fined up to $30,000 on the first day, $60,000 on the second day, and $90,000 on the third day. Three days of non-compliance could thus incur a whopping $180,000 in fines! This emphasizes how important compliance is for businesses operating in Quebec.
Bill 96 may have significant impacts when doing business in Quebec. BRION RAFFOUL LLP can assist businesses with IP strategies, contract strategies, and trademark applications. For further information, contact our experts.