Learn English – which is the best preposition to follow “proprietary”


Is intellectual property "proprietary to" or "proprietary of" the company to whom it belongs?

Best Answer

Proprietary to is the more popular construction.

Currently, 'proprietary of' is almost unused according to Google Ngrams.

Proprietary is an adjective. 'Proprietary to A' thus means 'proprietary with regards to A.'

Replacing 'proprietary' with a more familiar adjective makes this easier to grasp:

'Big to me' can be seen as meaning 'big, in my opinion,' and can be used to describe both concrete and abstract nouns. "This situation is far too big for me." "The jeans were undersized, but still seemed big to me."

'Big of me' means that I am receiving an air of 'bigness' - but is used to describe an action, which is an abstract noun. "Standing up to Congress was very big of me, if I might say so myself."

Intellectual property is concrete and thus can be described only as 'proprietary to' some entity.

For other nouns, it is possible to say 'proprietary of.' "He spoke to the staff as if they were slaves; it was frighteningly proprietary of him, on only his first day as manager."

Excuse the contrived examples.