I'd bet $100 that the US and others have done it before.
How about $6,000,000? "Steve Austin, a man barely alive..."
As a matter of fact, I did first see the word "patents". It's a shame, too, as I was just getting ready to be all indignant and such.
Not that I'd put it past something like the RIAA to try and claim 28 patents on the recording disk attached to the Pioneer spacecraft and sue NASA for their p2p (that's planet-to-planet) file sharing.Me
The wages of sin are high but you get your money's worth.