Monopoly, economic term describing significant control or ownership of a product or service (and thereby its price) because of command of the product's supply, legal privilege, or concerted action. There are different kinds of monopoly. Patents and copyrights are legal monopolies granted by a government to individuals or companies. A nationalized industry or service, such as the U.S. Postal Service, has a monopoly. A franchise granted by government to a public company to run a public utility (such as an electrical company) creates a monopoly.
Trading and industrial monopolies have the power to decide upon supply and price of goods. Sometimes labor unions act as monopolies in the supply of workers' services. In the case of national monopolies it is considered that they can provide mass-produced goods or services at a lower price, or more efficiently, than could be provided in a competitive situation; in practice this is not always true. Business or manufacturing monopolies may often discourage competitors from entering the field of competition. There is legislation designed to control monopolies that conspire to restrain price or trade.