Lately we've heard about how someone claims rights to a patent on the hyperlink. Megan McArdle touches on that here.
Apparently that one is not likely to fly. TechTV discussed that one last night, and I heard that they can trace some "prior art" back to 1949.
Stunts like this have been tried before. One notorious success was by George Selden, who patented the automobile. What, you didn't know that the auto was invented by a lawyer?
Some interesting history on this is found on this link. I think Daniel Boorstin wrote about it in one of his books also - that's where I first heard of it.