Intellectual protection


Designations used to refer to a product’s authenticity are not easily protected by trademarks. They include words or generic terms whose use falls under public domain and which, in fact, cannot offer exclusive use, which is normally granted to trademarks.

For example, a geographical indication on a product may not be reserved for a single producer or a single company within a region. Similarly, a production method shared by several producers cannot be reserved for a single producer. It is legal to specify the products’ origin or production method on their labels if the claim is accurate.

With no real intellectual protection, these public designations are sometimes illegitimately used by producers or companies, thereby taking advantage of the image projected by authentic products. In this context, products that require greater efforts and more stringent requirements to produce than common products may be imitated and their authentic characteristics may be threatened.

For this reason, under the Act Respecting Reserved Designations and Added-Value Claims, Québec has the legal means to protect the identity of food products that bear specific designations. Unlike a trademark belonging to a specific company, a designation is a public term that is reserved and controlled by the government or its appointed representative. In Québec, the Conseil des appellations réservées et des termes valorisants (CARTV) is the authority officially appointed for this purpose.