Wal-Mart Can't Decide If The Web Is A Lawsuit Target Or A Marketing Opportunity

from the thanksgiving-tradition dept

This is becoming something of an annual ritual. Every year, websites obtain leaked copies of retail stores' day-after-thanksgiving sales circulators and post the prices. Every year, retail stores sue those websites claiming they're guilty of copyright infringement. And every year, Techdirt points out that prices are facts, and facts can't be copyrighted. The New York Times had a good write-up of the controversy. The offenders this year are Wal-Mart and Macy's both of whom have sent threatening letters to a site called BFAds warning them not to post information from their ads. The Times story has a couple of interesting tidbits. When confronted by the reporter, Wal-Mart couldn't provide a specific explanation of what was illegal about posting prices. We also learn that at the same time Wal-Mart is sending BFAds threatening letters, it's perfectly willing to send them money as part of its "affiliates program." You would think that the operators of BFAds would take a stand and refuse to do business with them until they retract their lawsuit threat. Meanwhile, a story in USA Today suggests that Wal-Mart might be realizing that the web is an important part of its marketing strategy and not just a place to send cease-and-desist letters. They've started offering special online sale prices for Black Friday, and they offer free shipping to customers who choose to have the purchases sent to their local Wal-Mart store. Maybe next year Wal-Mart should spend less time looking for people to sue and more time looking for ways to attract customers online.

Filed Under: black friday, thanksgiving
Companies: wal-mart


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  1. identicon
    Max Powers, 21 Nov 2007 @ 2:48pm

    Publicity Stunt

    Wal-Mart releases this lawsuit information to the press release sites which I monitor everyday. Some of these press releases by company's are ridiculous and are obviously attempts to bring free publicity to their company.

    Of course another press release stated today that some gay rights group wants people to not shop at Wal-Mart because they do not offer health benefits to those that have "partners" instead of spouses.

    What's next? Press releases to notify the public that the CEO of a company picked his nose but everything is O.K.?

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