Power of a Notary signature?

So many of us have heard about protecting ideas and proving when you came up with the idea by mailing something to yourself registered mail and keeping the envelope sealed. The theory being that the USPS is a government organization and the mailing date is proof that you had the idea prior to that date.

Now my thought is, can’t you do the same thing, take a sheet of paper to a Notary public and ask them to stamp and sign it as proof?

That makes a great deal of sense – and the difference between a 37-cent stamp and a three-dollar notary fee is negligible when you’re looking for proof on dating.

Most people have a strange idea of what a notary’s role is – he or she does not add anything to a document’s validity by notarizing it per se, but rather, because he or she is trained and licensed by the government to witness important papers, it’s proof that the signature of John Doe on this notarized piece of paper was made by someone who was known to him/her as being John Doe or could prove to him/her that he was John Doe, and that he signed it in front of him/her on the date specified.

This can be important if John Doe is dead, comatose, serving in the Army in Afghanistan, exploring the Tien Shan Mountains without a cellphone, or otherwise unable to verify that he did indeed sell that parcel or land or car with this title to Richard Roe, when Mary Moe is challenging whether Richard Roe does in fact legitimately own the land or car. It’s proof that someone who provided proof that convinced a skeptical notary that he was in fact John Doe did indeed sign the relevant paperwork transferring ownership to Richard Roe on the 18th day of July, 2002, and did it in front of a notary trained to know what to look for as proof of identity.

One thing to keep in mind is that so-called “Post Office Patents” don’t mean a thing either legally or to the US Patent Office. If you need to protect an idea (and it’s one that you can legally protect), you need to actually patent it (and you can make a provisional application relatively quickly and inexpensively, compared to a full application). If your intent with the notary idea is to do something like this, try and buy or borrow a recent book on the process (Nolo’s legal how-to books are usually pretty good). Provisional applications are relatively recent (~1995).

Everybody has heard about it, true.

Nobody has ever come up with an actual court case in which this has worked.

This is true for patents, copyrights, and any other intellectual property rights issue you can think of.

I post this challenge every time somebody mentions this. So far, nobody has ever has ever come back with an example.

I realized after I posted this that I might come off sounding as if I was putting stock in it. I knew that it didn’t carry any real weight, thus my asking for about the notary signature. Thanks for the feedback!

…and to expand on Polycarp’s excellent answer above - every state (and possibly county) has different qualifications for a notary stamp. In NC, I had to take several costly classes to get qualified. Here in GA, my wife just had to walk into an office, show an ID and pay $35. No training, no booklet, no nothing.