The government of Quebec has been trying to get major retailers to add some French to their names to increase the presence of the French language in the province. 

On Tuesday, the province proposed a modification to the province's sign rules that would require Quebec businesses to add French to their outdoor signage, without altering registered trademark names. ​

Under the new rules, businesses with a trademark name that is not in French would be required to add a French word, description or slogan to their outdoor signage.

Here are the key moments in the five-year fight.


The Office québécois de la langue française launched a campaign condemning the use of English-only trademark names by large retailers like Walmart, Best Buy and Costco. It asked these businesses to add a French description to the brand, threatening sanctions if they failed to comply.


A group of large retailers took the Quebec government to court over the OQLF's demands, questioning whether the office had the power ask them to change their trademark names.

April 2014

A Quebec Superior Court Judge ruled in favour of the retailers, deciding that businesses that have storefront signs with their trademark name in a language other than French do not contravene the French Language Charter.

May 2014

The Quebec government appealed the Superior Court ruling.

April 2014

Quebec's Court of Appeal upheld the Superior Court's decision and ruled the OQLF cannot force companies to add a French component to their name.

June 2015

Quebec announced plans to amend the province's language laws to require retailers to add a French description to commercial names in the form of a visible french word, slogan, or explanation of what the company does. Example: adding "cafe" ahead of Starbucks Coffee. Culture Minister Hélène David said the government will offer options that don't require retailers translate or alter their original trademarks.

April 2016

A report by La Presse said the Couillard government intends to abandon its plan to require businesses to add French to their English trademark signs. The government did not confirm or deny this. In response, opposition parties urged the government to stick to its guns.

May 2016

The Quebec government proposed a modification to French Language Charter that would require Quebec businesses who have a trademark name that is not in French will be required to add a French word, description or slogan to their outdoor signage. Trademarks which are proper names, like McDonald's or Tim Hortons, are exempt. The goal is to have a "sufficient French presence" at every business in Quebec.