Black Friday sale in Germany – not without a licence

Thursday November 9, 2017 - Posted by:

Black Friday, one of the biggest e-commerce days in the year, is approaching and online shops are preparing their content. However, are they fully prepared?

Two weeks before Black Friday arrives, Amazon is facing legal action in Germany for its use of the registered trademark “Black Friday” during the last few years. The Hong Kong-based media and IP holding company Super Union Holdings Ltd has owned the trademark since 2013.

Hence, every retailer who wants to use this term has to get a licence from Super Union Holdings or else risk being indicted for impinging their trademark. In the event of any breach of the injunction, brands could be fined up to EUR 250,000 in regulatory fees.

This is not the first attempt by the Hong Kong-based company to protect its trademark from any unpermitted use. Super Union Holdings previously enforced its trademark of the phrase by issuing warnings to companies such as the US e-commerce marketplace Groupon in 2016.

How big is the issue?

If you do not own a licence but still use the trademark “Black Friday” in Germany, you are not just breaking the law, but are risking a notice and more legal consequences. In addition, you should also avoid using any variations of the trademark like “Black November” or “Black Friday Week” as the law is not 100% clear about the use of these terms.

Using the direct translation of Black Friday (“Schwarzer Freitag”) is also not an option as it has quite a negative connotation. Schwarzer Freitag is used when talking about a disastrous event or a bad day someone has, so it would be the complete opposite of a worldwide shopping event with loads of discounts, happy customers and millions of Euros spent!

So what to do?

If you would like to use the trademarked term “Black Friday” for this sale event in your German PPC or SEO content, you have to buy a licence from the German company Black Friday GmbH that owns the “Black Friday” licence. The licence can be bought on the Black Friday GmbH’s domain.

Besides this, there is still the possibility to use the term Cyber Monday. So far, there is no such trademark for this sale term in Germany. Looking at the numbers, in 2016 German customers spent EUR 405M on Cyber Monday.



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