back to article Patent shark‘s copyright claim could bite all Unix

A company registered in minor league tax haven the Cook Islands, but with a subsidiary in Delaware, lawyers in the patent-troll heaven of East Texas and an office in Sydney, Australia, has asserted intellectual property rights over all versions of Unix and “Unix-like derivatives” and plans to seek royalties from every company …


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  1. pete 22

    April Fools!

    April Fools!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: April Fools!

      Yes it is, but I can't lie to you, I was sort of hoping for another SCO VS. IBM style drama to unfold. Call me an ass, but Daryl McBribe did give us something to look for on a daily basis! Wonder what ever happened to him...

      1. Ron Christian

        Re: April Fools!

        I have to agree. I had the SCO graph from Yahoo stocks up on my wall for a long time. The one where it moves along like a regular stock, and then the verdict comes through, and it dives straight into the dirt. So satisfying.

    2. Turtle

      Re: April Fools!

      I figured out at this line: "An attorney identifying himself as Ernest K Malley, who spoke to The Register on condition of anonymity". And *that* brought to mind "Ern Malley" so I did not think that The Reg erroneously revealed a confidential source....

      1. Notas Badoff

        Re: April Fools!

        @Turtle: Thank you for the reference, as looking up "Ern Malley" at WP found

        "They particularly despised the well-funded modernist poetry magazine Angry Penguins and ..."

        Not that we know any angry penguins, no...

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: April Fools!

      Weak attempt, though. FourOne IP? nsfw daemon? C'mon.

      F. Must do better.

    4. LarsG

      Re: April Fools!

      Tut tut...

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: April Fools!

      Please Register, in the future, moderate your April Fools comments to remove any pointing out it is a joke, so we can have a laugh at all those comment posts that have taken it seriously.

      1. arrbee

        Re: April Fools!

        I suspect they keep the comments in to save their colleagues in the 'mainstream' press picking it up and running with it - amusing for us, but perhaps less so for those with friends / ambitions in the industry.

        1. Ron Christian

          Re: April Fools!

          Except they probably would anyway.

      2. keithpeter Silver badge

        Re: April Fools!

        "so we can have a laugh at all those comment posts that have taken it seriously."

        This one is just a little to obvious ('filing copyright' &c). Funny though.

      3. Annihilator

        Re: April Fools!

        Please Register, in the future, moderate your April Fools comments to remove any pointing out it is a joke, so we can have a laugh at all those comment posts that have taken it seriously."

        Sadly in this case we couldn't have laughed too hard given how close to reality this was :-|

        "Patent troll attempts to patent blatantly un-patentable thing" is a recurring theme these days.

    6. Gordan

      Re: April Fools!

      Yeah. Given how similar it sounds to the whole sorry SCO affair, though, it makes you wonder if that was just the biggest, most expensive, longest running prank of all time. It certainly would have had more credibility as such.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: April Fools!

        I thought something about this story smelt a little fishy... so I did a Google Nose search on the odour, and my suspicions were confirmed.

  2. Kevin 6

    Almost had me for a minute as I've see real lawsuits that were stupider till I noticed 2 glaring issues in the story itself. Then checked the date, and was like OK nice try

  3. pierce

    weak sauce.

  4. Richard Lloyd

    Was doing OK until 'nsfw daemon'

    A nice try, but spoiled half way through with the "nsfw daemon" - leave that out and the date-based company name was a lot more subtle.

    1. francescor82

      Re: Was doing OK until 'nsfw daemon'

      I fell for it too until the "nsfw daemon" reference. It's a daemon I wrote myself recently, so it couldn't be patented by someone else.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the idiocy begings once again

    And once again, the idiocy begins, as people with little clue try to make something "funny" for the first, and fail, miserably.

    Poor April: between the first and the 15th, it just cannot catch a break.

  6. Nanki Poo

    Fun I thought . . .

    On me.


  7. Rukario

    Good one

    Took me a while to realise that it was already 1 April there.

  8. Number6

    Not Quite

    Ah well, nearly caught by the timezone thing, given that it's still 31st March here (3/31 for the natives). Reading quite credulously until I got to the bit about the lawyer's name and I stopped to laugh, thinking that El Reg had decided to just publish his name anyway for a ridiculous lawsuit. Then the penny dropped.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: Not Quite

      "(3/31 for the natives)"

      I think you mean 31/3 :)

  9. Andy Tunnah
    Thumb Up

    Ah you bunch of miserable gits, I thought it was a really good go at aprils fools...what the hell do you expect, a gag of such of wit and discombobulatiion (yeah, I'm not sure that's a word..) that it rivals the radio broadcasts of orvell wells ?

    In any case, I likes

    1. Andy Tunnah

      orson welles even...i thought that looked wrong..

      1. frank ly

        Orvell was his brother and had a good career as a stand-up comedian. Not many people know that.

  10. Charles Manning

    You had me until

    "Patent shark's copyright..."

    Should have buried the gaffes until a bit later.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    April 1?

  12. Esskay


    Was what triggered it...

    If the company began with "A" and ended with "E" I probably would have believed it...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: FOURONE IP

      Hey, man - keep Adobe out of this.

  13. Martin 71 Silver badge

    Four One IP, yes. If you'd made it One Four, I'd have clicked immediately. Bloody colonials!

  14. VeganVegan

    Nice April Fools article.

    Could have asserted that the original social media, Usenet, especially its groups, were some of the first to trigger the nsfw daemon.

    Then again, maybe copyright claims that were violated & left un-protested for so many years may be deemed abandoned, much like spam, kleenex and xeroxing had entered the lexicon, to the chagrin (or tacit approval in the case of spam) of the respective owners.

  15. FlatEarther

    Ern Malley

    Liked the reference to Ern Malley, a fictitious poet, the main character in an old Australian literary hoax. Ironic too that Ern's poems were published in a journal named "Angry Penguins".

    1. Francis Boyle

      Re: Ern Malley

      Little known fact: every line of Ern Malley's poems is valid Perl code.

    2. keithpeter Silver badge

      Re: Ern Malley

      Excellent stuff. Someone should do a t-shirt of the Angry Penguins magazine cover.

  16. F. Svenson


    You can do better...

    How about a story on OEM's using Itanium?

  17. Daniel B.

    Was falling...

    'till the 'nsfw daemon'. References to "the adult industry" made me remember that it is already April 1st on the GMT timezone.

    A good one, El Reg!

  18. J. Cook Silver badge

    Well played. Call me suckered. :D

  19. url

    still the best tld

  20. RAMChYLD

    You got me there.

    I was totally caught in until I got to the 'nsfw daemon' part. Lack of sleep can make one extremely gullible and fall for anything (and apparently, break your memory and slow it down to the speed of molasses- I just fell for a prank minutes prior), but then since I spent the last few days trying to get a goddamned UEFI box with Fakeraid (in this case, AMD chipset SATA RAID) to work in Debian and failing spectacularly, it got me thinking and I recalled that I didn't see any nsfw daemon when Debian was starting up, then the meaning of NSFW dawned upon me...

    Protip: EFI and fakeraid don't go together in Linux land and many distros hate it when you set your storage up like that. I only had 4 hours of sleep over the last four days because of said setuup...

    1. A J Stiles

      Re: You got me there.

      The ONLY RAID worth using in Linux is ordinary kernel md RAID. Not fake hardware RAID with a proprietary driver; not even true hardware RAID which presents a single logical drive to the host.

      You'll find out why, if you ever lose a RAID controller .....

    2. keithpeter Silver badge

      Re: You got me there.

      "I only had 4 hours of sleep over the last four days because of said setuup..."

      Stop doing voluntary work!

      If you were paid at the usual hourly rate for that kind of time, would it not have been cheaper to buy a non-UEFI motherboard?

      1. RAMChYLD

        Re: You got me there.

        Actually, it's more like doing my own experiments, but yeah.

        I gave up on it yesterday night and threw out the raid setup. Now it's sitting on a saner regular LVM setup that spans both disks.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Re: You got me there.

      Same here. But, to be fair, the "four one" and "Ern Malley" clues were a bit wasted on those of us this side of the pond.

      %s/Ernest Malley/William McGonagall/g

    4. sisk

      Re: You got me there.

      I think the fact that so many people were taken in right up until the 'nsfw daemon' shows that we don't believe any claim too ridiculous for patent trolls.

  21. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge


    Pics or it didn't happen

  22. stizzleswick

    I would like to join in...

    ...with the general feeling here that even for an April Fools' bit, this is rather weak...

    Hand me back my wallet, I have already paid up...

  23. This post has been deleted by its author

  24. El_Fev
    Thumb Up

    Nice try :)

    Almost had me going lol

  25. Andy H

    There's no way that Ernest K Malley is going to "Steal my kernel" or Linus's come to that.

  26. Tank boy

    Very funny. Some commentard is going to come in and flame this later, and that will make it even funnier.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You call this reporting?

    I want my money back! ;-)

    Cute, but weak. :-D

  28. D. M
    Thumb Up

    I thought the company name was odd

    and when I saw "nsfw", everything made sense. Good one.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You had me up until Cook Islands

    Or rather when I noticed you'd missed any jokes in the headline, tagline OR first paragraph. Not like the Reg to miss an opportunity like that...

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OK I've dealt with it

    Nixed all *nix installations - replacing with Windows throughout.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    "forensic analysis of all known Unix derivatives had taken nearly three decades"

    This line was my first hint that it was an April Fools… pretty sure software patents don't last that long.

    Soon as I saw mention of a "nsfw" daemon, I knew it was fake. I've put together many a Linux distribution (right down to compiling it myself, by hand) and never seen such a beast.

    Still, keep trying, if people are dumb enough to respond to 419 scams, you'll hook someone eventually. :-)

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: "forensic analysis of all known Unix derivatives had taken nearly three decades"

      Actually, the question is; how long now before someone adds a "nsfw" named daemon to the repo?

      Given the sense of humor of most developers, I'm surprised that it isn't there already!

      1. Fatman

        Re: how long now before someone adds a "nsfw" named daemon to the repo?

        And I propose as a part of its functionality, the ability to monitor specific (executive) computers for unapproved access to pr0n sites; if such access is detected, it then sends those machines into a kernel panic.

        Also, as part of its functionality, it will monitor those computers who are tasked with monitoring your network for unauthorized pr0n access and inform you if you have been fingered.

        As part of its config file, the key value pair SHOW_NAUGHTY_BITS=TRUE causes the integral naughtiness filter to be bypassed, allowing you unfettered pr0n access.

      2. RAMChYLD

        Re: "forensic analysis of all known Unix derivatives had taken nearly three decades"

        Anyone willing to bet that Linux Mint would be the first do do so, given that they symlinked rtfm to man?

  32. Van

    sofa change

    Haha, you had me until the last quote saying Linus will need sofa money for food. Looked out of window, no nuclear explosion, couldn't have been real.

  33. John H Woods Silver badge

    Something for Andrew and Lewis ...

  34. tin 2

    Obvious, cos El Reg never works a bank holiday :)

  35. Uwe Dippel
    Thumb Up

    Nice one, though!

    You had me until your give-away NSFW!

  36. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Considering the date I was suspicious right from the start, but enjoyed it anyway

  37. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    "Mechanisms to do digestive gas exchange in unlighted environments"

    Cm'on Reg... patent laywers don't do copyright claims.

    Patent lawyers may be the scourge of the earth after politicians/state employees/mafiosi but they know how their bread is buttered.

    "Copyright claims" are precise and too easy to disprove or to work around to bring in the hay. See the pathetic trick "copyrighted lines of signal constants and some commentary" by McBride's

    Well, I guess McBride still enriched himself in his sociopathic ways using the burndown of his company as stepping stone, with the employees as useful idiots ... Wikipedia says McBride is now President and CEO of something called "Me Inc."

    You couldn't make it up.

  38. Ken Darling

    Lame. Yawn

    Bored before I even began reading. At least try to fool your audience.

    SCO - been there, done that.

  39. The Axe

    Actually a clever April Fool.

    All the right pieces to make it half believable but with a smidgen of hints to give a few clues that it's a joke.

  40. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    How fast did you get it?

    It took me 4 paragraphs. NSFW daemon is a bit of a giveaway......

  41. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Nearly had

    me until NSFW daemon.... because I've never seen it running when I do a list of processes in my Linux boxes

    Perhaps a better one would be

    "Microsoft spokesman has said after the success of windows 8 , windows 9 will have a radically improved interface called touch and spell."

    Which everyone would go hahahh good april fool, until m$ reveal it at the next big IT show

  42. jubtastic1

    I'm usually really bad at these

    But the bell rang as soon as I saw the headline on the main page.

  43. disgruntled yank

    sorry 'bout that

    Might've overlooked the date, but the attorney Ern Malley was a quick short-circuit....

  44. Florence

    Not El Reg's finest Aprils Fools article

    ..but I wasn't aware of the Ern Malley hoax, so thanks for the reference, and thanks to the commenters who explained, I enjoyed reading about it!

  45. sisk

    Got me....

    Right up until 'nsfw daemon'. I'd almost forgotten it way April 1, but that served as a handy reminder.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not quite as good as the Telegraph

    Those laugh-a-minute Tories had this:

    "Iain Duncan Smith: I could live on £53 per week."

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Not quite as good as the Telegraph

      No, that was real!

  47. Kevin Turnquist

    I love this day every year...

    My favorite part was this one:

    "An attorney identifying himself as Ernest K Malley, who spoke to The Register on condition of anonymity..."

    Well done.

  48. Stevie


    You had me on the hook but lost me at "nsfw demon".

  49. W.O.Frobozz


    Not funny Darl, try harder next time.

  50. ACx

    These days I can hardly tell the difference between a normal Reg article and an april fool. Its just read like the normal stupidity. Dont see how it was funny or wild at all. The story was as stupid as the writing. Normal reg story.

    Apart from google, and everything the UK government does, this year's april fools have been complete rubbish. Shame.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      That's like the Onion. 5 years ago I could spot a onion political l story in the first five words.Now when My friends post it on FB I have to look at the URL. Reading an article that says American wants to deport Jim Carry over control sounds like an onion story but it's not.

  51. Herby

    Spaghetti trees and their harvest?

    It might be worse, there might be a detected flaw in the kernel that doesn't allow time to be reckoned in the 60's for instance. When you get there, you remember the phrase: "If you remember the 60's, you weren't there!"

  52. Darkwolf

    would be funnier if this

    wasnt a April fools joke.

  53. 2Senile

    Rather a feeble try imo. An April Fools should be capable of fooling people. There isn't even the excuse of it being a Friday & Beer'O'Clock for the author.

    I expect to see a much improved effort next year. Paying the april Fools author based on the number of outraged comments might be a worthwhile incentive.

  54. Lee D Silver badge

    There's a reason I avoid tech sites on April Fool's. Thanks for reminding me.

  55. Rob Dobs

    shouldn't known earlier folks

    OK so i had suspicions on this one: freeware or Unix patent and or Apple taking something over are super common fools material.

    Shame on anyone who didn't catch the good one-liner of the Lawyer being attributed to commenting under anonymity and then being named in the same sentence.

  56. Someone Else Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Love it, love it, LOVE IT!!

    An attorney identifying himself as Ernest K Malley, who spoke to The Register on condition of anonymity, [...]

    If only other reputable agents of the press would write lines like this.

  57. davidp231

    Anyone else...

    ...think that this is the sort of stunt our favourite Bastard would pull to extort money from his company to fund his and the PFY's beer fund?

  58. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Where's Eadon?

    ... with the obligatory "At least Linux has a nsfw daemon! Windows FAIL!". I'm surprised he missed the opportunity.

    (Really, the jokes almost write themselves. "Windows doesn't need a nsfw daemon because the whole OS is not safe for work!" [rim shot])

  59. Anonymous Coward

    Oh nooooooo

    Next time do the April Fools prank about 3 weeks before christmas, and then ruin that for everyone.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...“By the time we’re done, he’ll need them to buy food.”

    Nice touch.

  61. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    RE: You had me up until Cook Islands

    What better place to register a domain for your firm?

  62. Stoneshop

    nsfw daemon

    Clearly, Usenet has not been run on Unix servers, or it would have tripped decades earlier.

  63. John Savard

    I Was Wondering

    Knowing the meaning of "NSFW", and not being aware that there was a Unix process by that name, I wondered about this, but not very strongly... it really didn't occur to me that this could have been an April Fool's joke, not being crafted to be obvious enough not to cause harmful confusion.

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