Brief notes on the concept of Property in Business Law


There could be no such thing as business law, or even business, if there were no such thing as property. Thus the concept of property is very important in business law.

In a layman’s restricted sense property means movable (personal property such as furniture) or immovable assets (real property such as land and buildings.) This is what is known as ‘tangible property’.

Legally, however, the term ‘property’ refers neither to objects nor to land alone. In its legal sense, property refers to legally protected rights to use, possess, enjoy and dispose of a thing. Land and other physical objects can exist where there is no law, for example, rocks on the moon. However, property rights can exist only where there is some law to define and enforce them. Law protects people in the exercise of property rights. In this way, the law contributes to the value of things.


There are other forms of property such as a copyright, a trademark or a patent right. Such type of property is known as intangible property. This shows that law includes rights over the use of land and objects as well as other exclusive rights over them as property also.

Let us illustrate with reference to book written by ‘A’. The manuscript of the book is A’s property. When that book is printed, then a particular copy purchased by a student is his property. Also, ‘A’, as the author has the right to copy and distribute the book. ‘A’, as the author, have property rights that restrict the ways in which people who do own copies can use them. For example, it is illegal to sell photocopies of a copyrighted book without the copyrighter’s permission. ‘A’ can make it into a movie also. These rights are forms of property that are separate from the book itself. In fact these rights may be bought and sold separately. Therefore rights attached to property may change from person to person and from time to time.


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