Quebec Demands Walmart, Costco and Others Frenchify Their Signs

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WalmartWalmart (WMT) and several other leading North American retailers are going to court to fight orders from the Quebec Board of the French Language that their outdoor signs be modified in order to appear "more French."

In addition to the world's largest retailer, Costco (COST), Best Buy (BBY), Gap (GPS), Old Navy and Guess (GES) are challenging the language office's demands. The government of Quebec has for decades sought to promote the use of French in the province; as Canada's QMI Agency reports, "Section 63 of the Charter of the French Language states that 'the name of an enterprise must be in French.'"

But according to Nathalie St-Pierre, a vice president at the Retail Council of Canada, there is disagreement over whether the law applies to companies' trademarked names. In the past, businesses like Walmart and Best Buy have not been required to add French words to the trademark names they emblazon on their stores.

"Now there is a new interpretation that says that when you use your trademark as a sign it becomes the name of the company," said St-Pierre. "If the law has changed then it needs to be clarified because it hasn't been applied [like that] for the past 30 years."

The retail council said that the language office has been threatening companies with fines ranging from $3,000 to $20,000. To avoid the penalty, Walmart would have to change its outdoor signs in Quebec to read something like "Le Magasin Walmart" (the Walmart Store).





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72 Comments

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nightshade_darkpaw

If you do business in a Francophone country, speaking and USING French is a ~must~! Just like speaking/using English in an English-speaking nation...

Seriously, just because English became the "World language" doesn't mean that French, Spanish, German, Russian, Portuguese, Arabic, Hebrew, Mandarin and Swahili all are now obsolete and useless to their speakers, even if they speak English!

And as to the comment about the Lowes sign being in English and Spanish in « Nouvelle-Angleterre », why not make them English-Spanish-French trilingual? It is a historically French area of an English-speaking country with some new Hispanic immigrants...most of the packaging in stores like that is already trilingual itself...I think signs in regions like that should reflect that "plurality" - Just a thought.

April 04 2014 at 7:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Linda Seccaspina

Le Walmart - Nothing Else for the Quebec Government to Worry Abo" on Zoomers: http://ning.it/QROkhg

November 19 2012 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
s.kohanski

Faakin A ,, A ?

October 17 2012 at 3:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Woof2205

I guess that means that you have to drool when you read the signs aloud.

October 16 2012 at 3:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rankincap

It is a copyrighted name and sign,,, do not change,,,,

October 16 2012 at 1:27 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Marvin

The Quebec Government should be studied in business schools on how they are able to totally destroy an economy and make people whose parents and grandparents were born in Quebec feel unwelcome. Its hard to believe.

October 16 2012 at 12:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mjmjupiter

Viva la difference!
Quebec, for the most part is a French speaking Provence and I loved visiting Montreal in spite of the difference in language. I respect that and tried to speak what little French I knew, but as long as you made some attempt to speak their language, most will speak English. Does every place on this planet need to be Americanized or English speaking just because most Americans won’t make an effort to learn a foreign language?

October 16 2012 at 11:14 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
B

Good for Quebec,

I don't mind immigrants, but I do mind when they expect us to change instead of them adapting to our culture!
I miss the old America, because they are succeeding in changing us. I hope Quebec sticks to their guns!

October 16 2012 at 11:03 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Matthew

English only!

October 16 2012 at 10:47 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
kirstenloa

I believe also the neighboring states should also change there signs. In New Hampshire in the Lowes there signs are in Spanish I think they should be in French. I mean the Welcome sign in New Hampshire is also in French

October 16 2012 at 10:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply