Feeds

Patent shark‘s copyright claim could bite all Unix

Cook Islands entity claims rights to code present in *nix, MacOS, Windows

Intelligent flash storage arrays

April Fool 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 that has ever used the operating system.

The company, FourOne IP, is a non-practising entity whose registered address is a Sydney accountant, a not unusual arrangement for companies seeking to take advantage of the Cook Islands’ tax laws. Despite its humble appearance, it nonetheless appears to have sufficient backing to engage high-powered attorneys to launch their World+Dog lawsuit.

An attorney identifying himself as Ernest K Malley, who spoke to The Register on condition of anonymity, said forensic analysis of all known Unix derivatives had taken nearly three decades, but that the company recently is confident today's copyright filing will succeed.

Malley explained that a “hundreds” of lines of code the company owns appear to be copied across all *nix variants, but had only come into widespread use in recent years, as the emergence of social media sites YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Tumblr and GrovelR has led to a change in loads on servers. Analysis of the resulting logs has revealed that a long-neglected piece of code called the ‘nsfw daemon’ present in every *nix variant going back to Bell Labs is now pressed into use with great regularity. The daemon is especially important to the online adult entertainment industry.

Malley said FourOne IP has acquired companies that can prove ownership of the daemon and that it will now exercise its rights.

“It's clear that some far-sighted Unix pioneer created this daemon even though it has only become useful in the last few years,” he said, “That the insight is significant is obvious from the fact the code has been copied not only throughout Unix but into the Windows code stream via NT, and Apple's world via BSD. It appears to us that NSFW is also present throughout the code base of every significant Linux distribution,” he added.

Pressed on FourOne IP’s intentions, Malley offered the following warning: “If I were Cisco, I’d increase my patent litigation budget to rather more than $50m a year. We’re a well-funded outfit with a righteous cause, because the code we own is crucial to so many operations.”

Malley said even Linux companies need to watch out. “Linus Torvalds needs to start looking down the back of the sofa for some coins,” he said. “By the time we’re done, he’ll need them to buy food.” ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
That dreaded syncing feeling: Will Microsoft EVER fix OneDrive?
Microsoft's long history of broken Windows sync
Mozilla, EFF, Cisco back free-as-in-FREE-BEER SSL cert authority
Let’s Encrypt to give HTTPS-everywhere a boost in 2015
SLURP! Flick your TONGUE around our LOLLIPOP – Google
Android 5 is coming – IF you're lucky enough to have the right gadget
Nokia's N1 fondleslab's HIDDEN BRILLIANCE: The 'Z Launcher'
Sugarcoating Android's Lollipop makes tab easier to swallow
Bug fixes! Get your APPLE BUG FIXES! iOS and OS X updates right here!
Yosemite fixes Wi-Fi hiccup, older iOS devices get performance boost
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
Meet Windows 10's new UI for OneDrive – also known as File Explorer
New preview build continues Redmond's retreat to the desktop
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.