As every year, platform operators such as Amazon schedule Black Friday. For retailers, this day with discounted offers is the official beginning of the Christmas business. In addition to the annual critical question if Black Friday really pays off for consumers, there is a legal problem for the companies.
The words "Black Friday" are widely used as everyday terms for the annual pre-Christmas online shopping all over the world. What few entrepreneurs know is that the words are legally protected. A trademark registration was (partially) carried out by various companies throughout Europe. This can be found, for example, in the European trademark register EUIPO.
Especially in Germany, the use of terms can become a problem. Super Union Ltd., a company located in Hong Kong, has registered the word mark in 2013 and enforces the trademark rights through a German company, Black Friday GmbH.
Due to “Black Friday ": Companies Sued in Germany
Black Friday GmbH owns the licensing rights to the trademark “Black Friday” and takes actions against the unauthorized use of the terms “Black” and “Friday”. In many cases, warnings are sent against the users. In one case, the company has even obtained a preliminary injunction against a market participant.
Even Amazon is currently in trouble because of its characteristic annual Black Friday-sales: the Chinese brand owner Super Union Holding has filed a lawsuit against the US company for violation of the brand. If the lawsuit is successful, Amazon will face fines of up to €250,000 for each infringement.
Dark times for Merchants without License
Merchants who have not acquired a license for the use should therefore refrain from using the term, as otherwise they are threatened by warnings or legal actions. Similar terms such as "Black November" or "Black Friday Week" should also not be used either, as these variants are registered as trademarks as well.