Friedländer studied chemistry in Königsberg, Strasbourg and Munich where he assisted Adolf von Baeyer. As a university lecturer in Darmstadt his main research subject were dyestuffs. He discovered the thioindigo and isolated and analyzed the natural dyestuff of Tyrian purple. In 1911 he was awarded the Adolf-von-Baeyer-Prize.
The Friedländer synthesis is named after Paul Friedländer.