Property laws are very important to the creation and maintenance of a system of ownership. Many regions have very specific laws to guide the buying, selling, inheritance, use, and reproduction of property. There are two main types of property law, generally referred to as "intellectual" and "real." Within these two large categories there may be a wealth of statutes and systems that deal with specific aspects of the law.
Intellectual property law may cover any type of property that originates as an idea. This means that the property's inherent worth may be intangible; instead of being a productive piece of land or a house, a piece of intellectual property may be a character, artwork, design, blueprint, or song. The value of this property exists in the idea of it, thus this type of law seeks to protect the right of the owner to this idea.
Many types of intellectual property law deal with the creation of systems that delineate ownership and use of any type of intellectual property. Trademarks, copyrights, and patents are all the result of law that decrees that an owner or creator will have sole use of a piece of intellectual property. Infringement of a property protected by this law may be a civil or criminal crime that may result in jail time, fines, and other legal penalties.
The other major type of property law deals with tangible objects, such as land, real estate, furniture, or possessions. In these cases, the value of the property is in its physical, or real, form, thus it is usually called "real property law." The scope of real property law is to create a system of ownership and rules against infringement.
With real property, ownership is usually granted through titles or ownership papers. These may guarantee the right of a person or entity to the sole use of a piece of property, whether it is a farm, a high rise building, or a flat-screen television. Titles prove that a person legally owns an object, and are therefore very important documents that require safeguarding.
Property laws for real property also prevent against the unlawful or misuse of a piece of property by a person not designated as the owner. This may include squatting, graffiti or vandalism, or other illegal activities on the property. It may also include crimes such as breaking and entering or trespassing, which are sometimes considered a form of property infringement.