This time, the French Language Charter (Bill 101) and the Culture Ministry found a way to circumvent the ruling by amending the regulations and requiring the retailers to add a French descriptor to their trademarks. According to Hélène David, the Culture Minister and also the person in-charge of the language charter, this provision will ensure that there will be a visible and permanent French presence in the storefronts of these international stores. The descriptor, according to the Culture Minister could be a generic word or a slogan or a description of the services or products. It could be placed below, next to or above the trademark. The Retail Council of Canada, through its Vice President, Nathalie St-Pierre said that they welcomed the regulation and the decision of the government to have the trademarks protected.
The Culture Minister said that only about 20 percent of the retail companies in Quebec have English names and some have already added a French descriptor voluntarily, citing international brands such as Crate and Barrel and Starbucks Coffee. She added that the new ruling will be implemented early next year.
Ms. David said that they would offer several options to the retailers so that the French heritage in Quebec would be shown better, without forcing the companies to translate their trademark into French. She added that the government would also be looking into the possibility of providing financial assistance to companies to offset the costs they are likely to incur with the addition of the French descriptor.
When the court ruling in favor of the international companies was given in 2014, Parti Québécois urged Premier Couillard to immediately improve Bill 101 so that loopholes could be quickly fixed. The Premier and the Culture Minister both agreed that it was too soon to make amendments and they wanted to analyze the court judgment first before initiating any action.
In the ruling, Justice Michel Yergeau said that the public signage of the plaintiffs whose trademarks are uniquely created in another language that do not have versions in French do not violate the laws regarding the language of business and commerce or even the Charter of the French Language.
But the judge added that while the trademarks are under federal jurisdiction, it is up to the lawmakers to initiate an action if they think that the trademarks in English caused the French language to suffer. Justice Yergeau said that it was more a political purpose than a judicial one.