Woman Trademarks Her Name, Says No One Can Use It Without Her Permission

from the copyright-protect! dept

It’s no secret that many people are quite confused about how patents, trademark and copyright law work at times. In fact, we’ve frequently pointed out that it’s rather unfair to lump trademarks in with copyright and patents, because trademarks are so different. Whereas copyright and patents are all about a right to exclude via a monopoly privilege, trademark is about consumer protection, and is under an entirely different part of the constitution. Unfortunately, those who favor the “intellectual property” terminology have lumped the three together, leading many people to falsely believe that trademarks are effectively similar to patents and copyright — especially with respect to the right to demand no one else can use a trademark in any way without permission. As folks like Leo Stoller have learned the hard way, that’s simply not true.

However, it doesn’t stop some of the more amusing claims from folks who do think that they have extreme control over a trademarked term. Reader darus67 points us to the the website of one Dr. Ann De Wees Allen, who makes it quite clear she has a trademark on her name, and anyone using it without permission will be in trouble:

Dr. Ann de Wees Allen’s name is a Federally Registered Trademark. It is illegal to use the name (Dr. Ann de Wees Allen) on any website or document without prior written permission.

She even goes so far as to post a list of websites “illegally” using her name, as well as a copy of the cease and desist letter (pdf) her lawyers will send you. Now, it may very well be that some of the sites in question are, in fact, violating her trademark (and at least one of the pages I’ve found does appear pretty questionable from a trademark standpoint) but the blanket claim that “it is illegal to use the name on any website without prior written permission” is simply false. That’s not how trademark law works. Dr Ann De Wees Allen does, in fact, have a trademark on her name, used in commerce related to dietary supplements, but just because you have a trademark, it does not mean you have complete control of the mark.

Separately, I should note that Dr. Ann De Wees Allen’s website has an amusing bit of javascript that tries to prevent you from copying and pasting any text and on doing something so simple as right clicking and trying to open a link in a new window. The best part, though, is if you have javascript enabled, and do try to right click, a pop up windows shows up with the text saying “Copyright Protect!” Yeah, so it appears that not only is there some confusion over trademark law, but copyright law as well. Dr. Ann De Wees Allen also claims to have patents — though, it does seem odd when you look at her patents webpage that it fails to list a single patent number, but just claims “patents” on a long list of things. A quick Google search does show two patents and one application with her listed as the inventor, though it’s entirely possible there are more. Still, giving the somewhat broad claims of what she’s patented on her patent page, it does make you wonder if she might be opening herself up to false marking claims.

Patents, trademarks and copyright are all very interesting subjects at times, but it’s rare to find a case where someone potentially has confused how all three work.

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Comments on “Woman Trademarks Her Name, Says No One Can Use It Without Her Permission”

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Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Wow, I didn’t know anyone was still using those functionality-reducing scripts.

The “right click” thing is someone’s ridiculous attempt to block the “Save Image As..” functionality, and as I recall those scripts emerged before tabbed (and even windowed) browsing was very popular — e.g. in the days when using one website was already pushing the limits of your connection.

Those scripts belong on pages with animated gifs and starry backgrounds. I had hoped they died with Geocities.

Patty (profile) says:

Re: Re: Snopse not allowing copy function

And yet if you use the marvelous READABILITY script (http://proto1.arc90.com/readability/) thingee you can easily copy and paste any of their articles which goes to show how futile such attempts at lockdown are. I keep this on my toolbar and use it to remove all the clutter from a web page – all that is left are the words. One of the most useful inventions ever.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Exactly what I was thinking about. I remember typical geocities pages using those scripts and thinking they were soooo clever. You would right click on pages and a popup would say “don’t copy my images!”. Later, subtler scripts would try to replace the copied text with a warning or append some bogus copyright notice to it and hope you wouldn’t notice.

I thought they died 10 years ago. I used to enjoy taunting people who used such scripts. You could copy their content and send it to them altered, mirror their page and tease them with it, etc.

tracker1 (profile) says:

Re: Re: None really

I’ve thought about getting a trademark on my online handle “tracker1” because I tend to use it pretty much everywhere, and have used it since the early 90’s. I’ve also used “aztracker1” when the former is unavailable. The majority of the time I’m not able to use the former, it’s been dead/unused or the person using it isn’t using it as a global name. Of course, I think it’s kind of stupid, but would like to get it as my online name everywhere to represent me as a single person. My real name “Michael John Ryan” is extremely common, and it would be stupid to trademark that. Also when referring to someone/something that is trademarked, you are allowed as long as you aren’t diluting the brand. I can say that the Olympic Committee sucks, and Coca-Cola sucks as well for supporting them. That isn’t a violation of either’s trademark.

PeteProdge (profile) says:


Is this Dr Ann De Wees Allen we are talking about? Doctor Ann De Wees Allen? We can’t use her name, right? What will Dr Ann De Wees Allen do if I were to use her name without permission?

I guess that would be up to Dr Ann De Wees Allen. I hope Dr Ann De Wees Allen is lenient against me now I’ve mentioned Dr Ann De Wees Allen’s name.

Richard Corsale (profile) says:

with all due respect

Mike, I fail to see how copyright and patents are lumped together. One excludes use of an instance of a work, where the other excludes use of an entire concept, irrespective of an instance of a given work. They’re both clearly out of hand, but there are few show stoppers born out of copyright, where patent law prohibits competition in many, many areas that simply cant be worked around.

Richard.C says:

Re: Re: with all due respect

Ok, so how does trademark differ? It’s also a granted Monopoly? Seriously, the monopoly aspect is sort of fundamental to all three. TM was never intended to be used to silence dissent, or entitle one to revenue from others using the common words out of context. But it was always a government granted monopoly.

DS says:


“Illegal Use of Dr. Ann de Wees Allen’s
Name, Patents & Research
Dr. Ann de Wees Allen’s name is a Federally Registered Trademark. It is illegal to use the name (Dr. Ann de Wees Allen) on any website or document without prior written permission.

Click Here to view the names of individuals and companies who are ILLEGALLY using Dr. Ann de Wees Allen’s Name, Patents & Research. Please help us STOP this ILLEGAL activity”

Ha! Her name AND copy & pasted! Suck on this Dr. An de Wees Allen…


Scote (profile) says:

Watts Wacker has been there, done that

“Futurist” Watts Wacker trademarked his name years ago. He said that he did it so that, if he chose, he could sue junk mail marketers for using his name for commercial purposes. Doesn’t seem like that would fly given the outcome of the Google Ad Words lawsuits, though.

As a “futurist” he seems to have gotten stuck in the 90’s, or so the design of his website would suggest:

Anonymous Coward says:

She seems to be so concerned about her “rights” that she neglected to check the policy of at least one image she “borrowed”. From the USPTO web site (http://www.uspto.gov/news/media/ccpubguide.jsp):

Use of USPTO Seal

The USPTO does not authorize the use of either its seal or logo on any other websites.

Sounds like a snake-oil salesman misrepresenting the laws to stifle criticism!

Anonymous Coward says:

Dr. Allen’s Portfolio of Patents span over two decades, and have been featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and named “Breakthrough Product of the Year” by Success magazine.

When I see people trying to hard to say something and show others how they are great and nobody ever heard of them, the first thing that crosses my mind is “scam”, but I could be wrong of course.

Now I would very much like to see try to sue me for copying that text from her site LoL

Phillip Vector (profile) says:


Just called her assistant Ron and asked what the procedure is for getting my name on that list. When he asked if I want to be sued, I replied, “Sure. I wouldn’t mind that publicity”. Silence for 40 seconds (I counted).

So he took my info and will give me a call back with the answer of what the process is to get listed on there to drive people to my site. 🙂

Common Sense says:

Re: Re: Ron

Well played sir. I literally laughed out loud upon seeing your special thanks to Ann de Wees Allen for her advertising. You can have all my internet points for today.

And if you do get sued, let us know here so that I can be sure to buy something from your site (no offense, I wasn’t really interested in looking around much right now) so that I can support your defense.

Bruce Ediger (profile) says:

I think this is the wave of the future

I think this is, in fact, the wave of the future. At least some people will be allowed to copyright their names, resemblances, etc etc.

I mean, why wouldn’t some future extension of DMCA or ACTA allow copyrighting (or something) a person’s appearance? Copyright seems to have devolved into the granting of odd, state-supported pivileges to certain narrow, monied classes of people. If the USTR can negotiate something like ACTA, which seems to enshrine the legal concept of “idea is property”, why can’t they negotiate “appearance is property” as well?

In combination with other legally-imposed burdens like detection of copyright watermarks and DRM-copy-prevention, this could lead to a privileged class of people, celebrities, and billionaires maybe, that could not be digitally photographed. The camera would, via the magic of DRM, refuse to create photos of members of the privileged class. Paparazzi be gone!

This may sound a bit futuristic, so I hereby grant Cory Doctorow a license, free-of-charge and other limitations, to create a sci-fi story around this premise.

bob cooley (user link) says:

Re: I think this is the wave of the future


Actually privacy laws are already protect a person’s likeness, and they are beneficial. Commercial (non-editorial or educational) use of someone’s likeness is illegal unless that person has consented to the use of their image by signing a release (sometimes called a Model Release).

So if someone takes a photo or you (or someone famous) is may NOT be used in a commercial manner (advertising, stock, etc.) – without your written consent. The exemption to this is if it being used in a purely editorial context. If its a news story in a magazine or a newpaper, it can be used without consent, and the publication is protected from litigation.

I’ve been a publication photographer for over 20 years (not a paparazzi), and the rules work pretty well. Its not likely to change in image arena.

Bruce Ediger (profile) says:

Re: Re: I think this is the wave of the future

I mean extending copyright onto “likeness”, and using DRM to automagically enforce that copyright. Cameras would just refuse to take pictures of certain people, not unlike Windows Vista and Windows 7 refusing to play certain media on certain output devices.

The “privacy” you cite, which certainly exists, not disputing that, would pale in comparison to the copyright enjoyed by my privileged class. Think of it: security cams that just shut themselves off when a member of this new royalty shows up, papparazi having to pass off very blurry images of celebs/politicians because their cameras would not work when the subjects were in recognizable range.

Should an exception for security cams be put in place, then Best of Mall-Cop “bootleg” tapes that feature images of drunken usually-invisible Lindsay Lohan (or whoever) would have enormous value.

At the risk of going off the rails, this is what we get for having a “pics or it didn’t happen” mentality. The advent of mass-market cameras, and mass-market digital cameras in particular, means that photographic evidence of *everything* is available. Just like electronic cash registers ruined checkout clerk’s ability to make change, we no longer believe without an accompanying set of digital images.

Bruce Ediger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I think this is the wave of the future

I am not lamenting that ability, or the lack of that ability.

I was just trying to render the idea of “copyrighting an identity” or “copyrighting appearance” absurd. I was postulating some science-fiction consequences of such a copyright. Sorry to be so vague.

It seems to me that combining “DRM” with “Copyrighted appearance” would potentially lead to people invisible to mass-market cameras, and possibly invisible to security cams. What consequences would that have to broader society and/or people’s behavior in public?

Caledfwlch (profile) says:

"confused how all three work"

“The medical and research community states that Dr. Allen’s science and technology is ‘Twenty years ahead of everyone else'” (yes, I cut and pasted it from her website). From her vantage point that far in the future she can see that patent, copyright, and trademark practice, by that time, will end up making no sense whatsoever, so she figured she’d get a jump start on the trend.

Anonymous Coward says:

Here’s the C&D:

Dear Sir or Madam:
It has come to our attention that your website is infringing upon one or more of the following trademarks of Nutrilab Corporation and/or Dr. Ann de Wees Allen.
Dr. Ann de Wees Allen ®
Trutina Dulcem ®
Blind Amino Acid ®
Edible Computer Chip ®
Skinny Science ™
Accordingly, Nutrilab and Dr. Allen demand that you immediately cease and desist from any further use of any of these marks. Continued, unauthorized use of any of these marks will result in legal action to protect said marks. Legal counsel has been copied on this letter. If you have any questions, please contact the undersigned. Your anticipated cooperation is anticipated.
Very truly yours,
Jeffrey Friedman, President
Nutrilab Corporation
cc: Craig E. Donnelly
Connelly Roberts & McGivney LLC
55 W. Monroe St., Suite 1700
Chicago, Illinois 60603
Craig E. Donnelly
Connelly Roberts & McGivney LLC
55 West Monroe Street, Ste. 1700
Chicago, Illinois 60603
(312) 251-9600
(312) 251-9601 – Fax

111 Second Avenue N.E. Suite 512, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701
Office: 727-894-0032 Fax: 727-894-6969

Aaron (profile) says:


trademark is about consumer protection, and is under an entirely different part of the constitution.

Trademark law is not found in the Constitution. It was invented at a later time to help people identify the brands they were buying and prevent counterfeit knock-offs from using similar logos. You wouldn’t know that today given that expansion of these laws to include things like individual colors and other ridiculously obvious things has turned trademark law into an incentive for advertising.

Mike, I fail to see how copyright and patents are lumped together. One excludes use of an instance of a work, where the other excludes use of an entire concept, irrespective of an instance of a given work. They’re both clearly out of hand, but there are few show stoppers born out of copyright, where patent law prohibits competition in many, many areas that simply cant be worked around.

This confusion and lumping together arises from use of the phrase “intellectual property.” Patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, etc are not similar in any major ways. They all have different lengths, areas they cover, infringement policies, and so on. They should never be over-generalized and lumped together. Even worse, the phrase “intellectual property” also confuses people into thinking about these abstract concepts as inalienable property rights, which they are not. They are man-made legal concepts that have become more trouble than they are worth.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Confusion

Trademark law is not found in the Constitution.

I think this is what Mike is talking about:

“it was not until 1870 that Congress first attempted to establish a federal regime for the protection of trademarks. This statute, purported to be an exercise of the Copyright Clause powers, was struck down in the Trade-Mark Cases, leading Congress to finally create a successful act under its Commerce Clause power in 1881.”

Thanks for posting that, I learned something.

NullOp says:


I side with this doctor in this matter. If you are worth anything or if someone can make a dime off of using your name somehow they will do it. More often than not a big company will just walk all over you since you are not a company and therefore really can’t defend yourself. So, Good for her! Let the first blow be a bloody one!!!

The REAL Dr. Ann de Wees Allen (profile) says:

Re: my name

You lying hound!

And for the rest of you little internet smart-asses sweating over your light-up keyboards in your parent’s basements, you are really starting to get on my nerves.

I’m so upset that I have had to start taking some of my own vile concoctions! Do you have any idea what L-ARGININE M2 ™ actually tastes like? Imagine a half burnt dog with mange slathered in Ludifisk. Just to get the taste out of my mouth, I took some of my Trutina Dulcem ®. Boy, was that ever a mistake! Trutina Dulcem ®, while pleasantly peppermint flavored, is a military grade flatulence inducer, which actually started lifting me off of my chair. In a panic, I grabbed a bottle of my Blind Amino Acid ® and downed several teaspoons between the airborne launches. Mistake again. Now I am temporarily blind, and I keep missing the chair on re-entry. Hopefully, the Coast Guard will notice the wildly varying altimeter signals being transmitted by my Edible Computer Chip ® and come to my rescue soon. I now deeply regret developing and self testing my Skinny Science ™ formula, as the weight loss has contributed to the height of my ballistic apogees and I have now started to dent the ceiling drywall with my head.

Where was I?



abc gum says:

“She even goes so far as to post a list of websites “illegally” using her name,”

– Ha ! – Check out the first one.

“RESOLUTION: July 10, 2008. Nutrilab and Dr. Allen’s attorneys sent a Federal Trademark Notification to Google, alerting them to Randy Gage’s infringement on their Intellectual Property.”

– Why send anything to Google?

MrKillVista says:

A few excerpts

Known in the industry as the “Alpha Scientist,” Dr. Allen is in the forefront of scientific breakthroughs, including Nanotechnology, NanoMolecules, Quantum Chocolate, Genetic polymorphisms in Dysregulated Arginine Metabolism, Sickle Cell Polymorphisms, Thalassemia, Blind Amino Acid Riders, L-Arginine Isoform Pathways, and Edible Computer Chips.

The medical and research community states that Dr. Allen’s science and technology is “Twenty years ahead of everyone else.”

As a result of her long-term research on the amino acid L-arginine, the medical and scientific community refered to Dr. Allen as the Leader in L-Arginine Biochemistry, and the Queen of Arginine.

“Part science, part skill, and part intuition. I also credit my savant-dyslexia. A dyslexic’s nonlinear images allows them to think much more quickly and multi-dimensionally. Albert Einstein was savant-dyslexic…”

A group of top scientists, named “The Dream Team” have discovered the Key Code to a new treatment for Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassemia, the number one genetic disease in the world.

Both scientifically and financially, Dr. Ann de Wees Allen® has reset the standard definition of success.

Dr. Oz says:

Dave says:

This is the best idea in years

If ever there was an effective way to highlight the idiocy of abused “Intellectual Property” laws to the general public, it is this.

I say we must actually start a Facebook group of “self-Trademarked” people, and then send Cease-And-Desist letters to all and sundry for connecting to us on Facebook and illegally using our names as they are trademarked.

Then we should go and download torrents and hope to get sued by the RIAA or MPAA under “Intellectual Property” laws

So if the RIAA/MPAA send us legal notices, they must first ask our permission for using our trademarked names.

That’s legal protection and wonderful negative publicity for the farcical abuse of deliberately vague “Intellectual Property”.

PLEASE, something like this is publicity GOLD.
The people really need an instrument as stupid as IP to fight the XXAA, and this seems to be something like it.

By the way, how do I trademark “Dave” for cheap?

Ruben Berenguel (user link) says:

I wonder...

I wonder if I could trademark my cat’s signature name Fatou the cat. Obviously there is previous trademark from people (for example the French mathematician he is named after, Pierre Fatou), but I wonder if there is any other cat named for this mathematician (yeah, I work in complex dynamics and my girlfriend is geeky enough to let me choose the name of the cat 🙂



Parade Rain says:

Just another scammer

“Dr Ann De Wees Allen” is obviously just another scammer/spammer. I couldn’t find anything on her site that mentioned the basis for calling herself doctor. I assumed it was an academic title, but since she doesn’t mention the school or her specialty, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was a self-awarded title.

The list of people she’s going after as IP violators looks like it could be a list of scammer competitors.

I suspect that this discussion and the related fallout was an event that she somehow managed to orchestrate herself.


Christian says:

Dr. Ann De Wees Allen

Well, the point is quite clear, Dr. Ann De Wees Allen trademarked her name in order to silence critics.

Some of her research seems to be quite interresting from my point of view (though I am not a doctor), but other things seem quite retarded to my. e.g. she was on fox news recently saying that coffe makes you fat.

I think all world should troll the hell out of her, use her name as often as you want the C&D letters she sends are pointless because she can’t sue you for saying/using her name in any nonprofit way.

Have a great time fellow Trolls


nasch (profile) says:


The TM is not to get users to stop being able to actually use her name on a website.

Well according to trademark law, that is true, but according to Allen, “It is illegal to use the name (Dr. Ann de Wees Allen) on any website or document without prior written permission.” She is claiming that I just broke the law, because I posted her name without permission. She’s wrong, but that’s what she claims. Or claimed, this is an old story.

Anonymous Jerk says:

Scripting of sit3

LOL, all you have to do is go into Tools/Internet Options/Security/Custom Level and disable “Active scripting” and “scripting of java applets” and then just refresh her page and you can right-click and save all you want. Why O’ why do people try to be crafty or smart and then brag about it all over the net…just to get laughed at.

Anonymous Jerk says:

Scripting of sit3

LOL, all you have to do is go into Tools/Internet Options/Security/Custom Level and disable “Active scripting” and “scripting of java applets” and then just refresh her page and you can right-click and save all you want. Why O’ why do people try to be crafty or smart and then brag about it all over the net…just to get laughed at. And no 1 givz a sh1t about her dead-@ass royal lineage in this digital age either, might as well be a descendant of Royal Jelly. It’s her @sshole descendants who have #ucked up this world. I wouldn’t brag about that.Everybody hates your family, whoever the #uck you are. i have no clue who this chick is anyway, but if fello haxz don’t like her, I hate you to I3itch……i’d still bang you though. By morning your @ss better be gone though.

Neville says:

This Article just goes to show how stupid and ignorant anyone can be

The fool writing this article on this miss guided subject of any species of ‘property’ and here, the well intentioned efforts of (Dr. Ann de Wees Allen) just goes to prove how arrogant one can be and utterly stupid at the very same time.

Below, the writer starts off by saying: (“Whereas copyright and patents are all about a right to exclude via a monopoly privilege, trademark is about consumer protection, and is under an entirely different part of the constitution”.) And from this point on reading any further is either entertainment or just a complete waste of time.

These are the facts “folks”
The world today is being controlled by a vicious and evil force hiding behind the walls of the global banking cartel, which is all of it run and orchestrated by the Wholly See/Vatican and its two Arms of power, the (City of London) that controls the global commercial scam and the (District of Columbia) that violently controls the Military courts pretending to be a justice system.

What this idiot, author of this moronic piece of garbage is totally not understanding and getting in his dumb little arrogant brain, is that through a deliberate and unethical secret and clandestine, furtive scheme inflicted onto all of (mankind) men and woman since circa 1666, 1871, 1913 or 1933, take fucking your pick but mostly also over the last 3000 years, if you’d like to start in Egypt, that when any one ‘man’ or ‘women’ is born today, one is then turned into a “Thing” and indeed this a legal term if you can believe that by a fraud so vile and so repugnant, in that event you have been turned into a thing. And what is even more despicable, is that these Monsters have chosen the weakest of us all, our eternally loving mothers of our children, our sons and daughters to prey on in the dark and the silent corridors of the public hospitals, where they pretended we could trust them to take care of our flesh and blood and indeed our families and our sons and daughters but who instead are hiding behind the corridors of parliament and the fake hospitals that have also been programmed with exactly the same kernel just like the bugs kernel in Microsoft, not to heal you but to kill you.

For nearly all of you reading this, you are so violently injured and you will never escape their farm but for some of you, I will have exposed what is actually the most pernicious and barbaric attack on mankind ever and one that is so disgusting it is truly vile to the extreme. We are literally being farmed like animals and there can be no other way to tell this truth but with the truth and then to add even more idiocy to their cunning, they then program us just as Bill Gates designed his Kernel (operating system in Microsoft) to have bugs in it and consequently as a result, assault the entire population on this planet for the last 30 years by not only causing us trillions of dollars in lost sweat equity but trillions of hours in wasted time de-valuing our lives. And so please now take the time to sit back and contemplate, that in this article, you have an idiot with the reading education capacity of a two year old not knowing that 85% of the words in the English language are a corruption. 85% of the words in the English language have been deliberately corrupted so that no one can write a proper contract and so that no longer would anyone work out how a (Motion to Dismiss For Failure to State a Claim) is used against all of us in a their Kangaroo courts of law because once you are impowered with th elaw and can write a propper lawfull document, then that vessel is now the property of you, the Judge and the Post Master General. And that just consolidates the fact that you are indeed a “Thing” with zero rights because you can’t even read or write English properly and that is why they removed LATIN from our schools back in 1966 at least here in Australia, so that you will never work out what DOG-LATIN means, or how suffix’s and prefix’s make the word mean exactly the opposite of what you thought that word meant in the first place.

Now as far as the any and all de-facto governments are concerned and their grubby little fake judicial systems are concerned, more correctly known today as Kangaroo courts, a “thing” (which is an object of a right) and that is what we all are today, has absolutely no rights whatsoever and so that means that when one enters into (their fakery monopoly world of their Intellectual property rights scam) then again, you are fooled into thinking that you actually have some monopoly rights or trademark rights or copyright rights granted to you which is simply not true.

You are a fiction and you put your hand up to be a fiction so they say? and as long as you are a good slave they will give you a monopoly board to play on but the moment you throw that token away? the dog or the hat or your “SURNAME” then they will get very angry indeed and not only can you no longer play on the board game, you and your family as a result will go hungry and starve because you actually had no rights in the first place.

But you do have pretend rights, if you continue to comply to be their “SURNAME” and continue to be an obedient slave “Thing” and they will happily exchange your sweat equity for these so called rights that were never rights in the first place but a cunning plan on a larger monopoly board to actually ensure the destruction of all of our rights as men and women to freely trade and to freely to speak and to freely write and to freely practice commerce and trade unhindered inside a de-jure government and a free society.

And so the motto of what you have just learned might really be, that when some stranger is offering you some monopoly on some rights, then maybe you already had those rights and are in-fact only agreeing to give you your God given, unalienable and inalienable rights that you already have.

0417 655 883

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