Wal-Mart Threatens Site Over Black Friday Ad Deals

from the didn't-we-do-this-already? dept

Want to know how we know the holidays are coming? It's not the Christmas decorations already showing up in stores; it's the annual ritual of retailers threatening any website that posts the deals from their "Black Friday" (the day after Thanksgiving) sales circular prior to that day. Last year, Wal-Mart went beyond what others stores had done, in pre-threatening sites. In the past, companies like Target and Best Buy had simply threatened to sue sites after the ads went up. But Wal-Mart took it a step further and threatened to sue before the ads even went up, ignoring, of course that they don't own pricing data. The data on sales prices are not copyrightable and cannot be owned. Wal-Mart simply has no legal leg to stand on in demanding the data from the circular be taken down.

But why let that stop them? An anonymous reader alerts us to the fact that Wal-Mart is already sending the notices out to various sites, threatening legal ramifications if the sites were to post the prices prior to the date Wal-Mart makes them "official."

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  1. identicon
    BTR1701, 8 Oct 2008 @ 5:28am

    Re: Re: Ridiculous

    Pricing data alone does not meet the elements of "trade secrets" under the law. The process by which they come up with the prices (e.g. if it's some algorithm or software that generates them) very well could be a trade secret but the pricing data itself does not meet the legal threshold.

    As for being "on notice" that anyone who tells them what price a DVD or a garden hose will sell for at Wal-Mart after Thanksgiving will have improperly obtained that information-- well, that's not anyone's problem but Wal-Mart's. It's not my job to enforce some company's OPSEC for them.

    So yes, Wal-Mart's claim is baseless.

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