Ownership – the “bundle of rights” to possess, use, manage, enjoy, &/or convey property to others:


1. The bundle of rights allowing one to use, manage, and enjoy property, including the right to convey it to others.  *  Ownership implies the right to possess a thing, regardless of any actual or constructive control.  Ownership rights are general, permanent, and heritable.  Cf. POSSESSION; TITLE (1).

     Excerpt from Marsh v. Alabama (1946):

     “Ownership does not always mean absolute dominion. The more an owner, for his advantage, opens up his property for use by the public in general, the more do his rights become circumscribed by the statutory and constitutional powers of those who use it. [2]

     Excerpt from John Salmond’s Jurisprudence (Glanville L. Williams ed., 10th ed. 1947):

     “Possession is the de facto exercise of a claim; ownership is the de jure recognition of one. A thing is owned by me when my claim to it is maintained by the will of the state as expressed in the law; it is possessed by me, when my claim to it is maintained by my own self-assertive will. Ownership is the guarantee of the law; possession is the guarantee of the facts. It is well to have both forms if possible; and indeed they normally co-exist. [3]

Various Terms for Types of Absolute Ownership:

Corporeal Ownership – actual and complete ownership of land or chattels.

Perfect Ownership – the complete bundle of rights to use, enjoy, and dispose of property without limitation. — aka full ownership; complete ownership.

Unqualified Ownership – absolute ownership with no limitations or qualification placed on it.

Nested Ownership – wherein the title is perfect; absolute ownership.

Various Conditions of Autonomous Ownership:

Cross Ownership – ownership by a single person or entity of two or more related businesses such that the owner can control competition.

Contingent Ownership – wherein title is imperfect but is capable of becoming perfect on the fulfillment of some condition.

Types of Shared Interest  With Controlling Interest:

Public Ownership – government owns at least 51% or controlling share of the company.

Legal Terms Pertaining Explicitly to Land Ownership:

Charter Land – “freehold land” held under royal charter or deed (generally for churches and leaders).

Owner’s Policy – a title-insurance policy covering the owner’s title as well as the mortgagee’s interest (real estate).

Ownership Terms Pertaining to Transference of Property:

Bonitary Ownership – a type of equitable ownership recognized by the praetor when the property was conveyed by an informal transfer, or by a formal transfer by one who is not the true owner.

Without Controlling Interest:

Incorporeal Ownership – ownership interest in land or chattels without the right to use or control, as with mineral rights.

Stakeholder – someone who has an interest or concern in a business or enterprise, though not necessarily as an owner, and whose interest may possibly be contested.

General Shared Interest Terms that May or May Not Denote Controlling Interest:

Ownership in Common – shared by two or more persons whose interests are divisible, and, at death, pass to the dead owner’s heirs or successors.

Qualified Ownership – shared ownership, restricted or limited particular use(s).


Ownership Terms Pertaining to Trusts:

Beneficial Ownership – a beneficiary’s interest in trust property &/or a corporate shareholder’s power to buy or sell the shares.

Trust Ownership – a trustee’s interest in trust property.


encumbrance – an interest attached to real property, or the title or record thereof, that may lessen its value, such as a lien, mortgage, or easement; any property right that is not an ownership interest.

imperfect ownership – ownership party subject to a usufruct interest held by another. aka naked ownership.

Types of Ownership Pertaining to Oil and Gas:

Ownership-in-Place Theory – used in a majority of jurisdictions: holds that the owner has the right to present possession of the oil and gas, as well as the right to use the land surface to search, develop, and produce from the property, but that the interest in the minerals terminates if the oil and gas flows out from under the owner’s land.

Nonownership Theory – used in a minority of jurisdictions, holds that the owner of a severed mineral interest does not have a present right to possess the oil and gas in place but only to search for, develop, and produce it.


Deed – a written instrument that is signed, sealed, and delivered and that conveys some interest in property.

own-work exclusion: See EXCLUSION (3).

own: vb. (bef. 12c) To rightfully have or possess as property, to have legal title to.

owned property exclusion: See EXCLUSION (3)

owner: (bef. 12c) Someone who has the right to possess, use. and convey something; a person In whom one or more interests are vested.  *  An owner may have complete property in the thing or may have parted with some interests in it (as by granting an easement or making a lease).  See OWNERSHIP.

adjoining owner: (18c) Someone who owns land abutting another’s; ABUTTER. — aka adjoiner.

beneficial owner: (18c) 1. One recognized in equity as the owner of something because use and title belong to that person, even though legal title may belong to someone else; especially. one for whom property is held in trust. — aka equitable owner.  2. A corporate shareholder who has the owner to buy or sell the shares, but who is not registered on the corporation’s books as the owner. 3. Intellectual property. A person or entity who is entitled to enjoy the rights in a patent, trademark. or copyright even though legal title is vested in someone else.  *  The beneficial owner has standing to sue for infringement.  A corporation is typically a beneficial owner if it has a contractual right to the assignment of the patent but the employee who owns the patent has failed to assign it.  Similarly, a patent or copyright owner who has transferred title as collateral to secure a loan would be a beneficial owner entitled to sue for infringement.

copyright owner: See COPYRIGHT OWNER.

disponent owner: (1958) Scots law. The conveying owner; SELLER (2).

general owner: (18c) Someone who has the primary or residuary title to property; one who has the ultimate ownership of property.  Cf. special owner.

innocent owner: (18c) The owner of property that another person uses without the owner’s knowledge or consent while committing a wrongful act or omission.  See innocent-owner defense under DEFENSE (1).

legal owner: (17c) One recognized by law as the owner of something; especially, one who holds legal title to property for the benefit of another.  See TRUSTEE (1).

limited owner: (1836) A tenant for life; the owner of a life estate.  See life estate under ESTATE (1).

naked owner: (1882) Civil law. A person whose property is burdened by a usufruct.  * The naked owner has the right to dispose of the property subject to the usufruct. but not to derive its fruits.  See USUPRUCT.

owner pro hac vice: See bareboat charter under CHARTER (8).

record owner: (1863) 1. A property owner in whose name the title appears in the public records. 2. STOCK-HOLDER OF RECORD.

sole and unconditional owner: (1871) Insurance. The owner who has full equitable title to. and exclusive interest in, the insured property.

special owner: (18c) One (such as a bailee) with a qualified interest in property. Cf. general owner. [1]


Disclaimer:All material throughout this website is pertinent to people everywhere, and is being utilized in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Editionby Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: Marsh v. Alabama, 326 U.S. 501, 506, 66 S.Ct. 276, 278 (1946).

[3]: John Salmond, Jurisprudence 311 (Glanville L. Williams ed., 10th ed. 1947).


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