Real Property, Personal Property—The Differences Explained

Real property and personal property are distinguished as the the main types of property.

REAL PROPERTY is also known as immovable property, real estate, interest (right) or estate in land, realty, immovable human-made things. Real property that one possesses or is granted rights to control cannot be moved. It comprises land (usually as parcels or lots), and often is a combination of land and any permanently associated structures (integrated, attached or affixed) to it. These immovable structures, improvements or fixtures can be natural and human-made, such as buildings, road network and infrastructure, waterways or waterlands, vegetation or plantation, etc. The property rights relate to the property and determine the nature of the possessor’s or rights owner’s control over it.

PERSONAL PROPERTY is also known as interest (right) in movable property, goods, chattels, personalty, movables, movable human-made things. Personal property can be in the form of tangible property and intangible or incorporeal property that one possesses or is granted rights to, ot that belong to one. Tangible property comprises physical possessions and belongings, such as cars and clothing. Intangible property comprises virtual or digital possessions and belongings, such as stocks and bonds, computer files, telecommunication channels, internet domains, network addresses. Personal property is movable property as it belongs to the possessor or owner of rights and can be moved together from one location to another. Even when inheritable, it is subject to expiration.

Intellectual property is also classed as personal property as it comprises creations and inventions of the human intellect. It grants property rights to individuals, business or legal entities over intellectual goods and information, such as copyrights, patents, trademarks. Intellectual property also provides protection of original concepts and ideas as well as prevention of plagiarism. The intellectual rights usually apply for a certain period of time, after which the property becomes a part of public domain with no exclusively granted rights. Therefore, everyone can legally use or reference without permission although noone can own.

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