Legal Word of the Day
Entry: Property
Pronunciation: prah - pur - tee
Definition: a thing that is tangible or intangible to which a person may hold legal title to it
At its very basic core, property is a metaphysical concept. This means that property represents the relationship that people create between themselves with respect to the ownership of things – both tangible and intangible things. So, property can be broken down into two main areas: (i) tangible property and (ii) intangible property. Tangible property is something that can be observed with your senses such as through sight, sound, smell, touch, and/or taste. Then, tangible property can be broken down further into subcategories. For example, tangible property can be broken down into personal property and real property.

"Personal property" is movable tangible property. For example, a pen, book, car, or space shuttle would be personal property. That’s because the pen, book, car, and space shuttle can all be moved from place to place. In contrast, "real property" cannot be easily moved from place to place. For example, a house built on land, and the land itself, are both forms of real property. (Of course, you could argue that the house could be taken down and rebuilt somewhere. However, the house is considered to be affixed to the land it sits on and is not easily transferable. So, the house is considered real property.)

With all that said, tangible property (either personal or real property) only represents half of the definition of property. The other half of the definition of property includes intangible property. Intangible property cannot be touched or held (except for maybe the legal documents that state a person owns some form of intangible property).

Intangible property includes intellectual property like trademarks, copyrights, and patents. Trademarks, copyrights, and patents are not tangible objects. Rather, they are specific creations made by their authors or inventors for specific purposes. And intangible property can be owned just like tangible property. Further, intangible property is often very valuable, sometimes more valuable than actual tangible property.

For example, the Coca-Cola Company owns the trademark of Coca-Cola. When people see the Coca-Cola logo they immediately know that it represents a soda drink. And the Coca-Cola trademark is worth millions upon millions of dollars.

A person (individual or entity) that owns property (either tangible or intangible) generally holds 6 main rights to that property, including the right to (i) destroy, (ii) exclude, (iii) enjoy, (iv) possess, (v) transfer, and (vi) use that property.

So, as you can see, "property" is a very, very broad term that encompasses all types and kinds of property. To learn more about the specific types of property please educate yourself by exploring the articles offers on property law.

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