This may have already been addressed, but just in case. Also, I apologize for being so behind, but I had my right knee replacement surgery two weeks ago (left knee was four 1/2 months ago) and I have been busy dealing with other stuff.
Now, I really wish all of the non-lawyers would stop opining on what the law is, what the law requires, etc. By and large, you are all wrong on what the law requires. So here goes:
FIRST, settlement discussions are generally NOT admissible in court, as proof of anything, until finalized.
SECOND, contracts generally don't need to be in writing or have a writing to be enforceable. There are certain exceptions, the most notable probably being those dealing with transactions involving real property and transactions that, by their terms, require more than a year to complete (this is the "Statute of Frauds" category -- it has nothing to do with fraud per se). If I hire you to design and construct a brand new design for a very complicated project, unless the terms provide expressly that it is contemplated to take more than a year, the Statute of Frauds will generally not require that agreement be in writing (some other provision may require it, but oral contracts are entered into and enforced all the time). Why, because theoretically if you throw enough bodies and resources at the problem, it could be accomplished in less than a year. A writing would be very helpful to establish the terms and conditions of the agreement and to prove that there was a meeting of the minds as to the terms of the agreement, but a writing is not required.
THIRD, generally, unless an agreement relates to real property, certain transactions involving intellectual property and certain other types of agreements, there is NO requirement for a notarization. NONE. A party may require a notarization as a condition precedent to closing a transaction, but generally there is no legal requirement for having documents notarized. And even when documents are required to to be notarized, there are often work-arounds. For example, many documents filed with the SEC purport to be required to be notarized. However, there is a section of the US Code providing that, in lieu of a notarization, many documents may be signed under penalty of perjury (IIRC, it is 28 USC 1746).
FOURTH, putting aside the issue of whether or not settlement discussions are admissible and just focusing on the contract formation issues, making the offer publicly through a blog or at a Waffle House could (although unlikely for other reasons) be deemed a legitimate offer. One question would be was whether or not there was sufficient specificity in the proposal so that all the parties knew and understand what the fundamental terms and conditions were. In this instance, just saying Rossi would pay x millions of dollars to IH for the IP would probably not suffice to settle the entire case. Because left undiscussed were a lot of important and fundamental terms, most prominently was what happens to the rest of the case -- is it subject to mutual walk-aways, etc.
FIFTH, the infamous MickeyD's coffee case. This is a case I am intimately familiar with because, amongst other things, prior to going back to undergrad and then law school, I managed McDonald's for a a number of years. Facts: first, the coffee served was very very very hot -- in the neighborhood of 180-185 degrees; second, that was McDonald's policy (written) to serve it that hot; third, there had been many many complaints over the years about the coffee being served too hot; fourth, the coffee spilled onto the woman's genitalia, causing extensive third degree burns and necessitating extensive surgeries; and fifth, the woman originally just asked McDonald's to cover her medical expenses and the company told her to fuck off (interesting question, to which I don't know the answer, is whether or not the company's refusal to settle early was admissible as evidence of the company's willful behavior in connection with the punitive damages presentation to the jury). The jury verdict was played up by corporate apologists/conservatives/etc. as evidence of the failures of the tort system -- IMHO the jury was absolutely fucking correct,
SIXTH, Jed, I love you in many ways, but you are absolutely correct when you say that you don't know contract law. Having a signed writing does not necessarily create an enforceable contract. In summary, you need at a minimum, an offer, an acceptance and consideration. Implicit in that is that there was a "meeting of the minds" as to the required terms of the agreement, that there was enough specificity / detail to allow such a meeting of the minds, that the contract was not for an improper purpose and that the consideration was adequate. In gross summary, as follows:
Meeting of the minds: all the parties understood and agreed to the specific terms of the agreement -- for example, I hire you to mow my lawn for which I agree to pay you $100. It turns out I have a front lawn of 500 square feet and a back lawn of 5,000 square feet. I would argue the 5,000 square foot lawn and you would argue the 500 square foot lawn and absent some evidence of which lawn we both agreed to, the agreement is void due to a failure to have a meeting of the minds.
Proper / improper purpose: engaging you to mow my lawn is a legal / proper purpose, engaging you to commit a criminal act is not. So if I hire you to blackmail someone, I pay you $250,000 up front, and then you don't blackmail them -- not only is the contract unenforceable, but if I sue you to get my money back, the court will toss my lawsuit. Putting aside the obvious issues about blackmail (lt's assume that the statute of limitations had run on the blackmail and any associated crimes), I will lose because the contract was for an improper purpose. Similarly, if I said I would give you a total of $500,000, you can't sue me for the additional $250,000 if you did blackmail the person. The contract was for an improper purpose and it is void and unenforceable. There is also the concept of "to receive equity, you must do equity" which is sometimes referred to as the doctrine of "unclean hands." Basically the idea is that for me to recover my money, for me to receive equity (not in the financial sense but in the moral sense), I must do equity -- I must come to the court with clean hands. I hired you to commit a heinous act, to blackmail someone -- so I am coming to the court with unclean hands, I get no equity and I don't get the money back. Similarly, if I said I would give you a total of $500,000, you can't sue me for the additional $250,000 if you did blackmail the person because you come to the court with unclean hands.
Consideration: there is an old legal adage that "a mere peppercorn of consideration" is adequate. And like most adages, there is some truth in it. But I am going to stop here, mainly because I could continue to write many hundreds of pages about contract formation, performance, breach, enforceability, remedies, etc. Everything I have said above is a gross simplification and I have omitted numerous other issues and areas that relate to the enforceability of a contract.
My point is that I wish all of the non-lawyers would stop rendering legal opinions (except of course, AA, Kev and Steppenwolf (is he/she/it the same as Siffercoll?), because they know more about everything than anybody who disagrees with them).