Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Incorporeal Definition:

Legal rights which are intangible such as copyrights or patents.

Related Terms: Intangible Property, Hereditament, Incorporeal Hereditament, Chose In Action

Latin: without body; with no material or physical component.

A term particular to the civil law although, now, increasingly, used to describe property rights as in incorporeal chattels, even in common law jurisdictions. Indeed, the common law borrowed the term to distinguish incorporeal hereditaments.

The Louisiana Civil Code, at §461:

"Corporeals are things that have a body, whether animate or inanimate, and can be felt or touched.

"Incorporeals are things that have no body, but are comprehended by the understanding, such as the rights of inheritance, servitudes, obligations, and right of intellectual property."

A qualification given to rights or chattels which have no physical substance but which can nonetheless be given legal status.

Some jurists have stated that an incorporeal property is the common law equivalent of a chose in action.

An example of an incorporeal right is a legal right or claim against a person on contract or tort, which the 2008 Quebec Civil Code, at §1782-1784, refers to as a "litigious right" adding that (to prevent conflicts of interest):

"No judge, advocate, notary or officer of justice may acquire litigious rights, on pain of absolute nullity of the sale."

Another incorporeal right is a right to a portion of an estate or, again using the terminology of the Quebec Civil Code, "succession rights" (§1799).

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