How do you sell something you don’t know if you own? That may sound like a nonsensical question, but there are many situations in which it comes up under the law.
The typical example is with respect to real estate. Many times the real estate records do not tell the whole story about who has an interest in the property. Sometimes there is a dispute about ownership. Other times people may have proprietary rights that are not necessarily related to actual ownership of the land, but instead may relate to how it is used (or restrictions on that use).
The law has come up with a way of dealing with such situations. It is called a quit claim conveyance. It means that the person will convey whatever interest they may have, whether or not they can define it.
One of the more interesting ways this is currently used has to do with the assignment of intellectual property. Often someone might be involved in a group project that results in creating a trademark, copyright or other such property rights. In such a situation the parties will often create a company that they jointly own and have everyone sign a quit claim transfer assigning any rights they may have, known or unknown, to that company.
A quit claim conveyance or transfer is a powerful tool for those involved in legal situations that may involve a level of obscurity or ill-defined rights.