Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Legal Monopoly


A Legal Monopoly is a market situation where a single entity, typically a company, is authorized by the government to provide a particular service or product within a specified area. This exclusive right is granted through patents, copyright, or a franchise, preventing competition and resulting in the monopoly. It often exists in industries that require large investments, like utilities, to ensure consistent service delivery.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Legal Monopoly” is: ˈlēɡəl məˈnäpəlē

Key Takeaways

  1. Legal Monopoly Defined: A legal monopoly refers to a company that is protected by law from competition. This could be in the form of a government-granted monopoly where the government gives exclusive rights to a company to produce or sell a particular product or service.
  2. Reason for Existence: Legal monopolies often exist in industries that require large investments or those that offer essential services such as utilities and infrastructure. This ensures that goods and services are provided in a uniform and stable manner and that consumers are not exploited by price manipulations.
  3. Pros and Cons: While legal monopolies can ensure stability and predictability, they can often lead to reduced competition which could result in less innovation. Prices may also be higher in a monopolistic market due to the lack of competitive forces.


A Legal Monopoly is a crucial concept in business and finance as it refers to a situation where a company is legally protected from competition and is the sole provider of a good or service in a given market. This importance stems from the unique market dynamic it creates; it enables the company to set prices and control market supply without competitive pressure. Additionally, it is often the result of a government directive aimed at ensuring stability in critical sectors like utilities, where uninterrupted supplies are paramount, or in fostering innovation, such as exclusive rights granted through patents. While this can increase prices, it also motivates innovation and maintains critical services, affirming the strategic importance of understanding the concept of a legal monopoly in business and finance.


A legal monopoly serves a specific purpose in a well-regulated economy. This type of monopoly is essentially a right granted by the government to a company or an organization, allowing it to be the sole entity providing a certain service or product in an industry or geographic area. This purposeful grant is typically made when the government deems a single provider to be more effective or efficient, often in cases of natural monopolies like public utilities (water supply, electricity, etc.), where it is cost-prohibitive to have multiple competing companies laying infrastructure.

Legal monopolies are used as a strategy to minimize inefficient use of resources. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to have multiple electricity companies each run their own separate lines to houses in the same neighborhood. Moreover, a legal monopoly protects the provider from unfair competition, thereby providing them with the financial power to contribute towards research and development in their sector. However, because of their power, such monopolies are often heavily regulated to prevent abuse, to ensure service quality, and to control prices.


1. U.S. Postal Services: The United States Postal Service is an example of a legal monopoly because it has exclusive control over the delivery of first-class and standard mail. This monopoly status is granted and protected by the federal government.

2. Public Utilities: In many countries, including the United States, public utility companies such as water, electricity, and gas service providers often operate as legal monopolies. These companies are granted exclusive rights to provide certain services within a specific geographic area due to the high infrastructure costs associated with these types of services.

3. De Beers: Until the end of the 20th century, De Beers, a multinational company specializing in diamond exploration, mining, retail, trading and industrial diamond manufacturing, held a legal monopoly in the diamond industry. For a long time, the company had exclusive access to all major diamond mines in southern Africa, enabling it to control diamond supply and pricing globally.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Legal Monopoly?

A legal monopoly refers to a company that is protected by law from competition. This protection essentially gives the company exclusive rights to supply a particular product or service in a particular market or sector.

How does a Legal Monopoly form?

A legal monopoly often forms when a government grants exclusive rights to one company to provide a particular product or service. This may occur, for example, due to the need for large capital investments, like in a utilities industry, which may be uneconomic to have more than one provider.

Can there be competition in a Legal Monopoly?

In most cases, there cannot be any direct competition in a market where a legal monopoly exists. However, indirect competition may still exist in the form of substitute goods and services.

What are some examples of Legal Monopolies?

Many public utility companies such as water and power companies are examples of legal monopolies. These companies are often allowed to operate as legal monopolies due to the high cost and complexity associated with infrastructure setup and maintenance.

Why does the government allow Legal Monopolies?

In many cases, the government allows legal monopolies to exist because it may not be economically viable to have more than one provider. This is often the case in industries where there are high setup costs, such as utilities or transport infrastructure.

Are Legal Monopolies always beneficial for the consumers?

While a legal monopoly can lead to efficiencies due to economy of scale, it may also lead to higher prices and less motivation for innovation due to lack of competition. Therefore, it’s a role of the government to regulate such monopolies to prevent exploitation of consumers.

How are Legal Monopolies regulated?

Legal monopolies are usually closely regulated by governmental agencies. These responsibilities may include ensuring reasonable rates for consumers, monitoring service quality, and preventing any potential abuses of monopoly power.

Related Finance Terms

  • Regulatory Barriers
  • Patent Rights
  • Licensing
  • Resource Ownership
  • Anti-Competitive Practices

Sources for More Information

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More