9 Outrageous Things People Claimed to Own
When the wealthy whine, they go all out.
There certainly are things money can’t buy—but not according to these people. From claiming ownership of the sun to the color purple, people have long been claiming to own some outrageous things.
We all like balloon dogs, but artist Jeff Koons must really like them. After all, he has a whole series of large-scale paintings and sculptures of balloon dogs called “Celebration”. In fact, Koons seems to like balloon dogs so much he took things a step further and claimed ownership on all things resembling balloon dogs.
According to the New York Times, Koons went after two businesses that he claimed violated his intellectual property rights by producing and selling bookends that resemble his famous “Balloon Dog” sculpture in December 2010. Not surprisingly, he ended up having to drop his claim after a mere two months of no success, according to SFGATE. If you think this story is bizarre, wait till you read the 15 outrageous true stories of dumb employees.
Motorcycle engine sound
No doubt, Harley-Davidson’s motorcycles are truly unique. They all come with the distinctive “Harley look” which sets them apart. It seems Harley-Davidson thought the thump-thump-thump of its engine was unique too, as they applied for a sound patent in 1998, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Besides the sound, the Milwaukee manufacturer had also attempted trademarking the shapes and curves of several motorcycle parts, and even an entire motorcycle. A spokesperson eventually said Harley-Davidson was no longer interested in spending huge sums in court when it was unsure whether it would even get the trademark, and they withdrew their trademark applications before the US Patent and Trademark Office could either confirm or reject them.
The smell of strawberries
Who doesn’t like the smell of strawberries? After all, they smell good enough that the France-based company Eden Sarl tried to trademark the smell in 2005, according to BBC. The company wanted to use the smell in soaps, face cream, stationery, leather goods, and clothing. It’s unclear why they felt like they couldn’t do it without the trademark.
An initial attempt to get trademark protection was dismissed by the European Union’s trademark agency, but Eden persisted and took its case to the region’s second-highest court. They argued that while strawberries may look and taste different, they all smell the same, and as a result could be trademarked. The court took a different view, and smell experts found that instead of just one aroma, strawberries can in fact have up to five different, distinct scents. So if you want to make strawberry-scented anything, go right ahead. Want to see some more outrageous purchases? Here are the weirdest things people tried to sell on Facebook Marketplace.
Did you enjoy any sunlight today? You might be in trouble. In 2010, Angelas Duran of Spain decided that she owns the star, and even has the registration papers to prove it. According to the Daily Mail, she registered the sun in her name at the notary office after reading about an American man who had registered himself as the owner of the moon.
She’s not exactly in the wrong—while there is an international agreement which states that no country may claim ownership of a planet or star, there are no rules against individual ownership. Duran also told the Daily Mail that she’s going to start charging everyone benefiting from the sun. It might be best to stay indoors to avoid getting an unexpected bill. Speaking of an unexpected bill, here are 18 outrageous things your taxes actually paid for.
The color purple
If you’re familiar with the British candy Cadbury, you know it comes in a distinct purple-colored packaging. What you probably don’t know is that from 2012 to 2019, Cadbury was the only chocolate that could use said distinct shade of purple.
According to Confectionery News, Cadbury’s parent company Mondelēz International gave up its trademark in February 2019. The decision came after competing candy companies started going after Cadbury’s trademark. In their defense, it really is a nice shade of purple.
Fried chicken sandwiches
Ever wondered who came up with the beloved fried chicken sandwich? According to Smithsonian Magazine, a man named Norberto Colón Lorenzana claims to be the one. Colon claimed that while working at a Church’s Chicken franchise in Puerto Rico in 1987, he had the idea to add a basic chicken sandwich to the menu, named the Pechu Sandwich.
The sandwich was a huge hit, and the company made millions. Sadly, Colon saw none of the profit. Understandably upset, he filed a complaint against South American Restaurant Corporation (SARCO) (who operates every Church’s Chicken in Puerto Rico) in 2014. Unfortunately for Colón, the United States Court of Appeals of the First Circuit disagreed, ruling that the supposed inventor of the chicken sandwich was not entitled to the $10 million he sought. We’re guessing these people would also really like these crazy expensive versions of everyday products.
Yes, you read that right. According to the Business Insider, a man named Dennis Hope does not only own the moon, but he has also made millions of dollars selling real estate on the moon. Talk about a smart business plan.
In 1980, Hope wrote a letter to the United Nations claiming ownership of the moon and asked for a legal reason why an individual couldn’t claim ownership. When he didn’t hear back, he decided to go ahead and claim ownership of the moon. Since then Hope started selling lunar land certificates at around $24-per-acre and has a pretty impressive clientele—including Barbara Walters, Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Nicole Kidman in addition to former U.S. presidents George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan.
Most of us remember the times when it seemed like everyone was playing Candy Crush. The game was popular—certainly popular enough to lead its parent company King to trademark the word “Candy.” This might seem like a strange thing to do, but according to Venture Beat, this would give King rights over the word in regards to the products it makes.
That means that someone else would not be able to make games called “Candy Crush”. Considering the success of the games, it is a smart move.
It certainly is a bold move to try and trademark Seal Team 6, the elite unit that killed Osama Bin Laden. So it’s no surprise that when Walt Disney attempted it, they were faced with a wave of criticism. Disney’s timing wasn’t exactly stellar either—they sought the trademark rights a mere two days after US operatives raided a compound in Pakistan and killed the man behind the September 11 attacks, according to The Guardian.
The move did not come without reason—Disney’s ABC subsidiary wanted to develop a TV show that focused on the drama and heroism of the special forces unit. But the move was criticized for not only its rapid filing but also for a trademark application that included items such as Christmas stockings and snow globes. Looking for a conversation starter possession but not quite ready to go this far? Try out one of the strangest things you can buy at Walmart instead.