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Property I
University of Connecticut School of Law
Bronin, Sara C.

Property Bronin (Spring 2018)
Possession
Pierson v. Post – case about chasing wild animals
Pursuit alone is not enough – need certain control
Pursuit of a wild animal does not vest property rights in the pursuer unless he mortally wounds or captures the animal
Wounding does not give to possession
Facts: Post was hunting fox and Pierson captured and killed the same fox. Post. brought a trespass suit claiming that he had legal possession of the fox.
Social concern (dissent) à should reward hunters for killing foxes = nuisance
 
Popov v. Hayashi – homerun baseball case
If both parties have an equitable interest in the property – must be sold and equally divided
When a person completes a significant portion of the steps to achieve possession of an item, but is thwarted due to the unlawful conduct of another (by 3rd party), that person is entitled to a pre-possessory interest of the item
Both parties had an equal and undivided interest in the ball
If a party could have proven that they had firm possessed the ball, then they would have won
Doctrine of acquisition does not require continual possession
 
Elliff v. Texxon Drilling – oil & gas case
Property is not just everything above the land – includes everything below
Negligent waste or destruction of gas & oil drained from neighbor’s well (under the law of capture) is not a legal appropriation of those minerals
Law of Capture – does not extend to negligent waste and destruction of the minerals à may take minerals without consent of owners as long as reasonable and legitimate draining
Each owner given reasonable opportunity to produce shares of oil and gas from common pool
Landowner has absolute ownership in all gas and distillates under land
Negligent draining = liable for damages
 
Relativity of Title
Title to property that may prevail over some people but is not absolute and will not prevail against another who has a superior claim
Possession depends on whether the conflict is with the original owner or possessor of the property, a subsequent possessor, or the owner of the land on which the property is found, and on whether property is considered (1) Lost; (2) Mislaid; (3) abandoned
 
Armory v. Delamirie – chimney sweeper finding jewel
Person who finds a piece of chattel has a possessory interest in the chattel
Finder’s possessory rights are superior to everyone else’s except those of the true owner
Finders generally prevail against all subsequent possessors of property
 
Conflicts between finders and rightful owners:
Lost: when the owner accidentally misplaces an item
Finders will lose against original owners
Mislaid: when the owner intentionally leaves it somewhere and forgets where they put it
Finders will lose against original owners
Abandoned: when the owners form an intent to relinquish all rights in the property
If trespassing – landowner will win
If allowed on land:
Private Land: usually to homeowner
Public Land: divided
If embedded in soil – award the property to landowner
Finder Statutes:
Generally, requires the finder to report the found item to police – and often requires true owner to pay some value of property’s value as a reward
Often requires the true owner to pay % of value as reward
 
Charrier v. Bell – case about man digging up grave
Burying artifacts and other objects is not an intention to abandon ownership
Need rightful owner’s permission
Intentions are that objects remain there forever – not free for taking
Indians were the legal owners of artifacts
Five elements of de in rem verso claim:
1.) enrichment
2.) impoverishment
3.) connection between the enrichment and impoverishment
4.) absence of justification or cause for enrichment and impoverishment
5.) no other remedy at law available
 
Intangible Property
Copyright Law: exclusive rights in literary and artistic works
Patent Law: exclusive rights in inventions
Trademark Law: exclusive rights in symbols that indicate the source of goods and services
Trademark Law
Name, symbol, or type of packaging à identifies the producer of a good or service
Gives owner of the “mark” the exclusive right to use it in connection with the sale of a particular good or service in particular area
Given protection only if used in commerce to sell goods or services
 
Qualitex v. Jacobson Products – color of iron pad
Lanham Act describes universe in broad terms
Not restrictive à anything capable of carrying meaning
Color = trademark à identifies or distinguishes good
Functionality Doctrine: prevents trademark law from instead inhibiting legitimate competition by allowing a producer to control a useful product feature
Dilution: caused by tarnishment or blurring
Tarnishment: if a company sells inferior quality products
Blurring: when a distinctive mark begins to lose its association with a particular company
Cybersquatting: obtaining web site domain names for sole purpose of selling them
 
Copyright Law
Copy Right Act – grants owner of original words of authorship that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression the exclusive rights to copy, distribute, perform, or display those works publicly
Protection lasts for life of author + 70 years – then becomes public domain
Works for Hire lasts for 95 years from date of 1st publication or 120 years from date of creation
 
Suntrust Bank v. Houghton Muffin – case about co

h owner’s use, or intrudes on the privacy of owners and occupants
 
Trespass to Chattels: concerns personal property and allows owners to recover damages for intentional interferences with the possession of personal property
 
Jacque v. Steenberg Homes – case about mobile home company intentionally trespassing
Right to exclude is one of the most essential rights for property
Strong interest in excluding trespassers
Large punitive damages to encourage conduct not to happen again
 
Limits on Right to Exclude from Public Property
 
Uston v. Resorts International Hotel – case about man excluded from casino
Right of an amusement place owner to exclude unwanted patrons
Must protect legit interest of owner and not abridge rights or cause harm
Patron had right of reasonable access = outlier case
Common Callings: an owner assumes certain duties when he holds himself out as open to the public
 
Madden v. Queens County Jockey – man barred from racetrack because owner thought he was a bookmaker – concluded that places of amusement and resort enjoyed an absolute power to serve whom they wanted to
 
Discrimination and Access to Places of Public Accommodation
C.R.A. (1964), Title II: prohibits discrimination because of race, color, religion, or national origin in certain places of public accommodation – i.e. hotel, restaurants, and places of entertainment
No provision for damages (can only get attorney fees)
Congress can regulate interstate commerce
Though to be violation of private property rights
C.R.A. (1866): regulates only race discrimination
Damages are available
Idea that §1981 only regulated state conduct
Supreme Court held that it applied to private conduct and to legislation passed by state legislatures
Regulates establishments (i.e. retail stores and service establishments)
C.R.A. (1991): regulates private conduct 
Regulates the terms and conditions of contracts, along with the right to make and enforce contracts
Public Accommodations Act of 1875: regulates private actors/sectors but was struck down as unconstitutional in The Civil Rights Cases (Congress cannot regulate private action); Enforcement Act