It's a bit early yet for Black Friday ads to appear, but Walmart is hoping to stop the early release of its blockbuster this year sending out letters to Web sites specializing in Black Friday coverage, including WalletPop, saying its ad can't be posted before Nov. 21: a mere five days before the big shopping event.

Walmart considers the content of this ad intellectual property, filled with trade secrets. And surely the ad is typically well thought out and planned a good deal in advance; some retailers even say Black Friday planning starts in January.

Door-buster deals don't grow on trees, and retailers believe the early release of the ads give competitors unfair advance notice, allowing them time to launch similar, or better deals themselves.

I'm not sure that leaking the ads puts a store at a competitive disadvantage. Especially not one the size of Walmart, with its vendor relationships, strategically-planned sales and access to inventory. And there's really very little control over these things, thanks to the Internet, where information takes on a life of its own, with few repercussions. Walmart's been sending out these letters for several years now--and the ads still get leaked, regardless.

Still, it was a bit of a shock to receive the letter. Or more specifically, to be told we'd received one. So we may not be telling you what the ad says when it does get leaked.

But we might mention where to find it.

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