In rem is a reference to legal proceedings which involve or determine the status of a thing (the res), and as a result the rights of persons in respect to that thing. An action in rem is an action where title to property is determined with a view to determining the rights of the parties in relation to that property.
Patent rights are rights in rem, in that patent grant endows the owner with rights erga omnes [Latin: in relation to everyone].
In rem legal proceedings most often relate to a ship, and are commenced by serving a claim on the res, which is the subject of the dispute. In order to commence in rem proceedings, the res must be within the jurisdiction of the court, as opposed to in personam litigation, which is against an individual or a company, where there is no requirement for the person to actually be within the jurisdiction of the Court.
Judgments in civil litigation involving in rem rights determine the rights in respect to the res against all the world, and not just the parties to the litigation.
[Latin: against a thing]
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