Jason Kottke recently posted a link to this article which discusses the practise of “word theft”. Apparently “It was an old tradition in encyclopedias to put in a fake entry to protect your copyright”.
It reminded me of something very similar from my time at Dr.Solomons (the anti-virus people).
We had a “virus encyclopedia” on the website which I helped maintain. The library listed known viruses, their payload and fixes, and was a fun thing to work on as we’d receive, on average, 15-20 new viruses daily. Before I joined the company the encyclopedia already had hundreds of entries including the term “custard pie”. The definition of “custard pie” simply referred you to a second entry named “rubber chicken” (the definition of which sent you back to the term “custard pie”).
It was added as a fun and silly way to catch anyone copying our material. It was simple and obvious and we never thought it would even be noticed, in fact I can’t recall hearing if any customers had spotted it.
So ,it was most amusing when those very terms turned up on a rival company’s newly relaunched website. Maybe we should have included the term “red-handed”!!