Wal-Mart already sending Black Friday price-list cease-and-desists

Wendy sez, "If it's fall, these must be cease-and-desists for Black Friday ads. This year, they seem to be coming earlier than ever, as Wal-Mart sends pre-notifications against future posting. Chilling Effects has the story:"
Instead of waiting until Black Friday price advertisements leak and firing off DMCA notices, Wal-Mart seems to be opting for a trade secret route this year, sending pre-notifications to consumer sites such as bfads.net warning that any early release will be unauthorized. The warning won't be effective unless Wal-Mart can demonstrate the listings are in fact trade secrets.
Link (Thanks, Wendy!)


  1. Last time I checked, your price for purchasing something was a ‘trade secret’ and therefore any subsequent calculations based on that number are also a secret.

    You don’t want the public knowing who really has the lowest price, do you?

  2. Well I think it’s easy to ascertain that at least as of October 23rd, in the year 2007 anything that anyone does, says or thinks is somehow copyright infringement against someone else’s copyright, or in violation of some unknown end user license agreement or corporate policy and therefore making one subject to cease-and-desist orders and lawsuits, and cancellation of services for said infringements/violations.

    Is this really the world we want?

    I’d kill myself, but alas, that would cause me to infringe upon the copyrights placed on William Shakespeare’s works by the publishing companies that continually reprint Romeo & Juliet, therefore own the act of suicide as intellectual property.

  3. The prices are facts, like baseball stats. They are not protected under copyright. That being said, why would they be so upset about some free advertising?

  4. The only thing I could guess is that they do not want a competitor lowballing them on one of the loss leading doorbusters. They could care less what the consumer knows.

  5. I’d suggest not buying stuff at Wal-mart now, during Black Friday. Vote with your wallet, your money is best spent somewhere else that doesn’t try to do this. (or perhaps not buying anything during Black Friday)
    But alas, I’m not most people…

  6. madjo: If you needed this news article to convince you to not buy stuff at wal-mart, then god help you.

  7. Wasn’t there a story in Boing Boing about a college bookstore evicting students for writing down prices because the knowledge of the prices was their intellectual property, and that college’s law department telling the bookstore they didn’t have a leg to stand on? Wouldn’t that apply here?

  8. Time to go through the big four of IP law: it’s clearly not patented info, nor is it trademarked. The easiest way to dismiss these two is that the info has not been registered with the Patent and Trademark Office.

    You cannot copyright facts, so it is not copyrightable.

    Now we come to trade secrets. We haven’t covered them in my Intro to IP Law class, but I’m an editor on the IP law journal at my university, so I’ve seen a bit about trade secrets there.

    I think that the person who would get in trouble for revealing trade secrets would be whoever gave the website the info, not the website itself. The person guilty of “misappropriation” of trade secrets is whoever illegally acquires the information (i.e., through industrial espionage).

    It is likely that the leaker is a Walmart employee (or an employee of the company Walmart contracts out to in order to print their ads). This person would be bound be an NDA perhaps, but he would be the one subject to punishment for misappropriating the info.

    If the person then tells a website, the website /legally/ acquired the info and therefore is not guilty of misappropriation.

    This act is probably a combination of overenforcement of IP rights and Walmart’s attempt to show they are trying to preserve secrets (a prerequisite to enforcing trade secrets is the ability to show reasonable attempts to maintain secrecy through NDAs and other acts).

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