Some of the world's largest retailers are fighting for the right to keep their identity intact after Quebec's French-language watchdog demanded they rework their brand names to fit the French-language charter.
Costco, Best Buy, Gap, Old Navy, Guess and Wal-Mart have asked Quebec's superior court whether the Office Québécois de la langue française (OQLF) has the right to demand such changes to their trademarks.
The OQLF wants businesses to add French generics to their trademark, something many other retailers have done in recent years after solid crackdowns by French-language authorities.
French generics can be terms to help describe the service or product sold by the retailer or descriptive terms added under a trademark name. For example, the Second Cup coffee chain recently added "les cafés" before its name in order to comply with language laws.
Nathalie St-Pierre, vice-president of the Quebec Retail Council of Canada, said the businesses believed they were in compliance with the law for the last 20 years but were surprised by the OQLF's warning.
She said the issue is the way the French-language watchdog applies its requirements to different retailers on a case-by-case basis.
"The issue is how do we go about doing this and do we have rules that are clear and that are applicable to all in the same manner, which is not the case currently," said St-Pierre.
St-Pierre said the OQLF should consider applying solid rules rather than demanding particular changes to different stores.
She said infractions can cost businesses between $3,000 and $20,000 in fines and repeat offenders can be charged even more.
Stores could also see their certificate of francisation confiscated — the certificate that confirms the work environment abides to current provincial language rules.
According to a news release issued by the OQLF in August 2011, French-language officials will not force businesses to translate their names, but would rather demand they add French slogans or descriptive titles to their current titles.
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Highlights Of The 2011 Census
Here are some highlights from the 2011 Canadian Census. With files from <em>The Canadian Press</em>. (AFP/Getty Images)
As of May 2011, 33,476,688 people were enumerated in Canada, nearly twice as many as in 1961 and 10 times the number in 1861. (Alamy)
Population Growth Speeds Up
Canada's population grew by 5.9 per cent between 2006 and 2011, up slightly from 5.4 per cent during the previous five years. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jtbradford/" target="_hplink">Flickr: jtbradford</a>)
For the first time, more people in Canada live west of Ontario (30.7 per cent) than in Quebec and Atlantic Canada combined (30.6 per cent). (Flickr: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/derekgavey/" target="_hplink">derekGavey</a>)
We're Number One
Canada's population growth between 2006 and 2011 was the highest among G8 countries. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/33498942@N04/" target="_hplink">Flickr: WarmSleepy</a>)
Exceptions To The Rule
Every province and most territories saw their population increase between 2006 and 2011; the rate of growth increased everywhere except in Ontario, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. (AP)
The growth rate in Ontario declined to 5.7 per cent, its lowest level since the early 1980s. (Alamy)
Saskatchewan Out Of The Red
Population growth in Saskatchewan hit 6.7 per cent, compared with a negative growth rate of 1.1 per cent between 2001 and 2006; the province welcomed more than 28,000 immigrants during the latest census period, nearly three times the number of the previous five-year period. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/justaprairieboy/" target="_hplink">Flickr: Just a Prairie Boy</a>)
Yukon And Manitoba Take Off
The rate of growth in both Yukon (11.6 per cent) and Manitoba (5.2 per cent) has doubled since 2006. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/us_mission_canada/" target="_hplink">Flickr: US Mission Canada</a>)
The East Is Growing Too
The rate of growth in Prince Edward Island (3.2 per cent), New Brunswick (2.9 per cent) and Newfoundland and Labrador (1.8 per cent) has increased substantially between 2006 and 2011. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jw1697/" target="_hplink">Flickr JaimeW</a>)
Nearly seven of every 10 Canadians lived in one of Canada's 33 main urban centres in 2011. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/markwoodbury" target="_hplink">Flickr mark.woodbury</a>)
.. Except Not In Ontario..
The rate of population growth in almost all census metropolitan areas located in Ontario slowed between 2006 and 2011. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/husseinabdallah/" target="_hplink">Flickr abdallahh</a>)
Maybe Because Everyone Moved To Alberta
Of the 15 Canadian communities with the highest rates of growth, 10 were located in Alberta. (AFP/Getty Images)