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Ownership in the Context of Property Rights

 

1. What is “Property”?

Property is any tangible or intangible physical item, design, creative work, or concept that is owned.

Ownership of property refers to the legal right to exclude others from the specific thing owned. So property is a bundle of rights associated with all physical and non-physical things. Aside from the right to exclude others from using property, ownership rights often include the right to possess, to use, to transfer, and to commercialize the property. Any of these rights, however, are subject to modification by the owner of the property.

•    Discussion: Do you associate property with physical possession or with the rights in something? Do you think the right to exclude others should be the defining characteristic of property?

•    Practice Question: Suzie develops a new method for synthesizing radioactive material from common elements. She patents the process and develops a machine to extract the radioactive particles. The Federal Government notifies Suzie that the production of radioactive material is illegal and prohibited. In this situation, what are Suzie’s recognizable rights of ownership? Are those rights tangible or intangible? How are those rights limited?

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