Intangible property is property that has value but that is not tangible. In other words, you may be unable to touch the property, to physically see it, or to hold it in your hands. However, despite your inability to actually see the property, the property still has some type of actual value which the law recognizes and protects.
Common examples of intangible property include brand names and patents for ideas. For example, a brand name such as Nike or Apple has a value, even though you cannot actually see the value associated with the word. The value lies in the brand recognition, which is an intangible concept. Likewise, the ideas that are patented or copyrighted also have intangible value.
Some types of property has both tangible and intangible value. The intangible value may far exceed the actual tangible value. For example, the Coca Cola companies recipe for coke is a written recipe, and that written recipe is something tangible that you can touch. However, the intangible value- the ideas that go into that recipe- are what give it its value.
Society and the government recognize the value of intangible property, and protect this intangible property with a series of laws. For example, trademark law states that no one can use the a copyrighted trademark that belongs to another brand. This law recognizes the tangible value of the idea and the reputation associated with the trademark, and, as such, it protects the intangible value associated with the Nike swoosh or the Apple companies apple with a bite taken out.
Copyright law recognizes the intangible value associated with written material and music, and protects the transfer of this intangible property. This type of property also has some tangible value of course; books and music that are copyrighted can be physically transferred. Copyright law ensures that these intangibles, the ideas and the work that went into producing the product, are protected. These laws go far beyond just protecting the physical paper that the book is printed on, or the physical CD that contains the music.
Finally, patent law protects ideas. Even though the product has not been created yet, a patent prevents other people from stealing the intangible property that exists. This is important because without patent law, businesses would have little incentive to do research to come up with new ideas since as soon as they were successful in their research and development, someone else could come along and take their intangible property and make a profit off of it.