Abandoned property

Abandoned property: an overview

Personal property left by an owner who intentionally relinquishes all rights to its control.  Real property may not be abandoned. See Adverse Possession.

At common law, a person who finds abandoned property may claim it.  To do so, the finder must take definite steps to show their claim.  For example, a finder might claim an abandoned piece of furniture by taking it to her house, or putting a sign on it indicating her ownership.

Many jurisdictions have statutes that modify the common law's treatment of lost or abandoned property.

In the context of intellectual property, abandoned property refers to the relinquishing of intellectual property rights by an owner, thereby allowing others to use the intellectual property without protest.  For example, an inventor who does not register a patent to his invention relinquishes the patent rights associated with his invention, allowing others to use his invention freely and without recourse.