CNN victim of early April Fool's prank?

Some prankster out there got an early start on April Fool's Day when they made CNN's Web site the butt of a joke earlier this week.

A mirror site that replicates all the links and content of CNN leads to a story entitled "Microsoft Patents Ones, Zeroes" and describing Microsoft's patenting of zeros and ones.

The hoax story said: "In what CEO Bill Gates called 'an unfortunate but necessary step to protect our intellectual property from theft andexploitation by competitors,' the Microsoft Corporation patented the numbers one and zero Monday (March 26)."

The hoax story added that: "with the patent, Microsoft's rivals are prohibited from manufacturing or selling products containing zeroes and ones -- the mathematical building blocks of all computer languages and programs -- unless a royalty fee of 10 cents per digit used is paid to the software giant."

Furthermore, the story quoted Microsoft chairman Gates as telling reporters: "Microsoft has been using the binary system of ones and zeroes ever since its inception in 1975. For years, in the interest of the overall health of the computer industry, we permitted the free and unfettered use of our proprietary numeric systems. However, changing marketplace conditions and the increasingly predatory practices of certain competitors now leave us with no choice but to seek compensation for the use of our numerals."

Contacted by ITworldcanada, Edna Johnson -- CNN.com spokesperson in Atlanta -- downplayed the incident, suggesting it was someone with time on their hands. Johnson said there was no reason for CNN to be concerned, as the "spoofed" site was not part of CNN's site.

Johnson did admit that the story sounded familiar and suggested that this joke might have made the rounds before.

Source code for the story reveals it was adapted from an IDG News Service story covering Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorinas speech at CeBIT technology conference in Hanover, Germany on March 22.

The hoax story can be found at

http://www.cnn.com@scitech@3520040376/new_010325/alert/breakingnews.html.

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