Major retailers win battle against Quebec language watchdog

The Montreal offices of the OQLF - the Office québécois de la langue française, - Quebec's so-called "language police.". Karol Dahl/Global News

MONTREAL – A Quebec Superior Court justice has declared major stores will not have to change their names in order to operate in Quebec.

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Several retailers – including Walmart, Curves, Best Buy, Costco, Toys R Us, the Gap, Old Navy and Guess – took the Office Québécois de la Langue Française (OQLF) to court after being told to change their names or lose the right to conduct business in the province.

The province’s language watchdog had previously released a statement requesting that companies change their signs, add generic words like “café” or “magasin” or add a French slogan explaining what they sold.

Quebec Superior Court denied the OQLF’s request, concluding that stores with storefront signs displaying their trademark name in languages other than French are not obliged to follow the Charter of the French Language.

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It is not yet clear if the OQLF will seek to appeal the ruling. They have 30 days to file an appeal.

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