, an abstract
is a brief statement that contains the most important points of a long legal document
or of several related legal papers.
Abstract of title
The Abstract of Title, used in real estate transactions, is the more common form of abstract. An abstract of title lists all the owners of a piece of land, a house, or a building before it came into possession of the present owner. The abstract also records all deeds, wills, mortgages, and other documents that affect ownership of the property. An abstract describes a chain of transfers from owner to owner and any agreements by former owners that are binding on later owners.
A Clear Title to property is one that clearly states any obligation in the deed to the property. It reveals no breaks in the chain of legal ownership. After the records of the property have been traced and the title has been found clear, it is sometimes guaranteed, or insured. In a few states, a more efficient system of insuring title real properties provides for registration of a clear title with public authorities. After this is accomplished, no abstract of title is necessary.
In the context of patent law and specifically in prior art searches, searching through abstracts is a common way to find relevant prior art document to question to novelty or inventive step (or non-obviousness in United States patent law) of an invention. Under United States patent law, the abstract may be called "Abstract of the Disclosure".
Certain government bureaucracies, such as a department of motor vehicles
will issue an abstract
of a completed transaction or an updated record intended to serve as a proof of compliance with some administrative requirement. This is often done in advance of the update of reporting databases and/or the issuance of official documents.