I’ll Take a BLACK FRIDAY Beer, Please

by Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.
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I went to Best Buy on Monday to pick up a new modem (it probably would sound cooler if I said I was getting the Xbox One, but the truth is it was a modem).  It’s been a little chillier than average here in Minnesota this week, yet there were already three tents out in front of the store in anticipation of Black Friday.  Where else in the world would you see that other than in the US?  I asked the cashier how long they had been there, and he said that they showed up over the weekend.  People camp out for FIVE days to save a few hundred bucks on a television?!?  Do these people have jobs?!?  I certainly pride myself on fabulous purchases at a fraction of the price, but they have this wonderful thing called “the internet” where you can shop for deals in your PJs without waiting in line.  You just need one of these pretty little modem things.  Standing in line FOR DAYS to fight people for a toy or a deal on a TV is something I will never understand.  Watching the local and national news Thanksgiving night, the stories oscillated between a story about people standing in line to shop and a story about people standing in line for food — I’m a fan of capitalism, but there’s really something wrong with that picture.  But enough of my soap box.

Unlike SUPER BOWL, OLYMPICS, WORLD SERIES, or most musical acts that people might wait in line for maybe hours to grab a ticket, no one ever registered the term BLACK FRIDAY for discount retail services.   DOORBUSTERS also is not a federally registered trademark.    “Black Friday” originated as a phrase used in Philadelphia to describe post-Thanksgiving traffic.  Its use did not expand outside of Philadelphia until after 1975.  As applied to retail, the term was eventually used to describe when retailers went from operating at a loss to making a profit for the year.  The fact that no one registered the term BLACK FRIDAY related to retail services could be because it had already developed too much use descriptively or even generically that it could never function as a source identifier.  The earliest trademark application for BLACK FRIDAY in the USPTO database was filed in 1997 by Miller Brewing Company for beer, but was abandoned.

In 2012, however, BLACK FRIDAY  became a registered trademark for “beer” owned by one of my favorite craft brewers in Brew Town (Milwaukee) — Lakefront Brewery.

Another application for BLACK FRIDAY has been allowed for computer games, board games, and entertainment services related to games, which was applied for by Dynamics, Inc. but it will soon be abandoned for failure to file an Extension of Time or Statement of Use.

So while you’re out shopping today, hopefully you’ll spare some credit card swipes for Small Business Saturday® (celebrate small businesses) on Nov. 30 and Makers Monday (buy American) on Dec. 2.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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