Bilingual Trademark Regulations in Canada: Am I Required to Translate My Trademark?

As a Canadian translator and packaging specialist, the number one question I receive from clients is the following:

Am I required to translate my English product or company trademark to French (or vice-versa)?

When a trademark appears on bilingual packaging or advertising materials for the Canadian packaging, it may remain in English as long as there is no French version of the trademark registered in Canada. Of course, the product identifier must appear in both languages in order to achieve compliance.

For example, a new client of mine recently enlisted my help to translate and re-work the American packaging design pictured below for the Canadian market. Although they were happy to modify font sizing to make the English and French equally prominent, they were concerned that translating the product’s trademarked name (DRAIN-SLEEVE) would clutter up the design.

In this case, the company did not have a French-language version of “DRAIN-SLEEVE” registered in Canada, therefore we were able to use “DRAIN-SLEEVE” only and rely on a translation of the product identifier (in this case “Filter fabric sock for perforated drain pipe”) to get the message across.

There are French versions of the trademark (™) and registered trademark (®) symbols that must be used. My recommendation is to use both symbols in cases where the trademark is English-only (®/MD  and ™/MC) and the French symbols on the French trademark in cases where one exists.

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