RE: CommodoreWorld

From: Bo Zimmerman (
Date: 2004-06-18 20:11:43

Hello everyone,

imagine you
inherit a fruitgarden with apples and pears, which has been left alone for
ten years. Because nobody cared, the neighbouhood got used to pick their own
fruit every autumn.
You as the new owner, are only interested in the apples as the pears have no
real commercial value for you. So you can leave them hanging to rot or....
tell the neighbourhood generously to help themself with the pears as you
don't have a really need for them for the moment [1].
As you have the law on your side, most people will accept the situation. But
what are you going to do with people that still pick (thus steal) your
apples as well?

I wonder if this is true.

In Texas, as in 49/50 of the U.S. states (and perhaps the world?) there is a
legal theory called the common law.  What that says in a nutshell is that
you can gain and lose certain rights over time just through their practice
becoming commonly accepted.  The classic example we were given in school is
about the person who sits on their porch and watches the kids cross his lawn
on the way to school every day, and then wakes up one morning and decides to
say "no"!  The kids could claim rightly that the property owner had given up
his kid-crossing rights over the last 10 years of knowingly letting them do
so without complaint.

In your example, you mention someone who inherits an orchard and discovers
people have been picking from it.  Wouldn't a better example be someone who
inherits the orchard, and then sits in a rocking chair indifferently while
people pick fruit from it for 10 years?

If so, I wonder how/whether, under the common law, some rights were not lost
through this negligence to enforce their rights.

- Bo

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