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Co-ownership: Definition, Example and Related Terms

What is Co-ownership ?

Co-ownership is a situation where two or more people or entities hold ownership rights in a certain asset or property. This could be a business, a piece of technology, a patent, or any valuable resource. This means that all co-owners have a claim to the benefits that come from that property, such as profits from a business or royalties from a patent. Co-ownership can be formed voluntarily, like when partners come together to start a business, or it can be formed by law, like when a patent is granted to several inventors. Each co-owner has the freedom to transfer their share to others, unless there's an agreement that restricts this. Co-ownership can be complex, especially when it comes to managing the property and distributing benefits, so it's often governed by contracts that lay out the rights and responsibilities of each co-owner.


  • Scenario Description
    Two tech companies, A and B, decide to jointly develop a new piece of software. Both companies contribute resources and expertise, and they agree to share the profits from the software. In this case, A and B are co-owners of the software. Their co-ownership is formed voluntarily and is governed by a contract that specifies how the software will be developed, how the profits will be shared, and how disputes will be resolved.
    Three scientists from different institutions collaborate on a research project and invent a new technology. They apply for and are granted a patent for the technology. The three scientists are co-owners of the patent. Their co-ownership is formed by law, as the patent office grants the patent to all inventors. Each scientist can license the technology and collect royalties, unless they have an agreement that says otherwise.

Related terms