Wal-Mart’s lawyers have an early holiday message for Web sites that post “Black Friday” ads ahead of their official release date: Don’t do it.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Friday that its lawyers have sent letters to the Web sites, saying publishing the ads before their official November 19 release date violates Wal-Mart’s copyrights and other rights.
“Such violations can give rise to liabilities and severe legal penalties,” said the letter, posted on the bfads.net Web site. “To the extent that the methods of acquisition or use include criminal activity, criminal penalties may also apply.”
November 19 is just four days before “Black Friday,” the day after the Thanksgiving Day holiday when shoppers throng to stores looking for deep discounts that retailers use as a lure to get the key holiday sales season off to a strong start.
But more and more of the advertising circulars retailers put out a few days ahead of “Black Friday” have found their way to Web sites weeks in advance instead.
“When that sort of thing happens, it’s hard for our customers to tell whether (the ads) are accurate or not,” said Gail Lavielle, a spokeswoman for Sears Holdings Corp. “We can’t vouch for them if we haven’t actually placed them.”
Wal-Mart has asked these web sites not to post the ads in the past, but the ads have still been posted, said John Simley, a spokesman for the world’s largest retailer.