Singles' Day or Guanggun Jie (Chinese: 光棍节; pinyin: Guānggùn Jié; literally: "bare sticks holiday") is an entertaining festival wide spread among young Chinese people to celebrate the fact that they are proud of being single and thus spending money on themselves. The date November 11th (11.11) is chosen because the number "1" reminds an individual standing alone.
A few years ago Alibaba Group to foster consumption on its platforms launched a special campaign, a day of crazy discount for whoever buys from its platform on November 11. The campaign took advantage of the existing single day festival which became the largest online shopping day in the world. Alibaba's sites Tmall and Taobao generated on 11.11.2015 US$14.3billion in sales.
Now the question is if Alibaba applied and registered a trademark for 11.11. HFG team went through the issue and found out the following.
Alibaba applied the first "11.11" trademark and the corresponding Chinese version “双十一” or “双十一狂欢节” and those were successfully registered in 2014. The legend says that Mr. Ma used all is power and went in person to Trademark Office to make sure its trademarks were promptly granted. On the eve of November 11, 2014, a notification letter was posted and brought to the attention of the public via PR campaign. The notice required television stations, newspapers, internet media not to publish and use 11.11 words of promotional advertising if not in relation to the Alibaba Group. The notice pointed out that Alibaba Group had registered "11.11" as trademark and therefore such sign could not be used by others to make reference to shopping campaign. Competitors got crazy and started legal battles trying to invalidate the trademark and to obtain their own trademarks being granted. Nevertheless JD.com and other e-commerce platforms temporarily replaced their promotional page removing "11.11" words. Later on, other platforms filed for registration alternative kind-of-similar signs such as “JD 11.11”, “Tu Niu 11.11”, etc. Anyway until now we have not found these trademarks including 11.11. registered.
It seems therefore possible to register a trademark and create a monopoly - only one company can legally use - a date for online discount sales campaign. Creative people, the world is in your hands. Surprise us.