You can’t own the sun

July 2nd, 2015

hy understanding ownership is important

 

Today’s post is by Michael Figueroa, Project Manager at SafeSourcing

Maria Duran, of Spain, has been selling “plots” of the sun on eBay since 20131 . She created documents laying claim to our solar system’s only star and had them notarized, and auctioned off these plots with notarized certificates. When Ebay shut down her online store, she sued (Can anyone who’s ever been sunburnt sue her?) However crazy her claims may sound, how is it any different than from any other ownership claim? How does a person or organization make claim to land, goods, oceans, or ideas, and prove or disprove “ownership” other than to say “that’s mine!”? There are two basic concepts at the heart of every ownership claim:

Ownership as an agreed-upon standard within a society:
In most civilized societies, ownership standards are established that “legitimize” a claim. These claims are only functional because of the compliance of the society as a whole with this standard. This is very similar in concept to money: It’s only as good as what people agree to trade you for it. There are places in the world where claims to ownership of even human beings are commonly made. This is why having agreed upon standards within that society are so important; Allowing ownership of people, life or shared life-giving resources (like water or the sun) can have (and have had) disastrous outcomes for societies.

Ownership as control that cannot be overcome:
The other standard of ownership stems from simply exerting control over an object that no-one else has the power to oppose. Ownership claims of territory by governments are in place all over the world, enforced by the threat of exerting control through the military. Ideally force is used only to protect the more peaceful standard of agreed-upon societal ownership standards.

There are costs and benefits associated with ownership. In purchasing, WHEN transfer of ownership takes place is critically important. Concerns arising from point-of-ownership include:

·  Who pays for freight?
·  Who pays for damaged goods?
·  Who is responsible for temperature control?
·  What happens if product is not up to spec?
·  How do I verify transfer of ownership happened?

[1] “The curious case of the woman suing eBay over ownership …” 2015. 16 Jun. 2015 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/06/04/the-curious-case-of-the-woman-suing-ebay-over-ownership-of-the-sun/>

Understanding the agreed upon FOB point is crucial to call out in your documentation. Because as Maria Duran can tell you, ownership disputes can be difficult to sort out.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with this process or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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