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Quebec gets tough on store's English signs

June 21, 2012 at 8:24 AM

MONTREAL, June 21 (UPI) -- Provincial Quebec language authorities are warning retailers with English names their store signs must contain French or they may face fines.

Montreal, the busiest shopping hub of the province, is awash in signs for national and U.S. chain stores such as Home Depot, Old Navy and Banana Republic, many of which add no French to their trademarked logo signs, the National Post reported Thursday.

The provincial language authority began issuing written warnings to the stores last month, saying they were in contravention of the provincial Bill 101, which requires all signs contain French.

However, Nathalie St-Pierre, the Retail Council of Canada's vice-president for Quebec, told the Post there was likely to be a legal challenge even if fines weren't issued.

A legal opinion done for the council and seen by the French-language Le Devoir newspaper said the language law allows for exception for trademarked names in languages other than French.

The opinion said the retailers could be pre-emptive and go to court to defend their rights, or could wait until fines were issued to challenge them.

St-Pierre told the Post the council is confident French-speaking Quebec consumers are sophisticated enough to cope with internationally recognized English brands.

"I think what they want is to be served in French and to find instructions in French and so on, but the whole culture doesn't just rest on signage," she said.

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