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What is an intangible asset?

An intangible asset is an asset that you cannot touch. Examples of intangible assets include  copyrights, patents, mailing lists, trademarks, brand names, domain names, and so on.

Often the market value of an intangible asset is far greater than the market value of a company's tangible assets such as its buildings and equipment.

Accounting principles require that intangible assets be reported on a company's balance sheet at cost or less. Since many intangible assets are not purchased, they may not have a reportable cost. As a result, many valuable intangible assets are not even reported as assets on the company's balance sheet.