Intangible Asset Definition

For example, licensed financial accounting software that the University modifies to add special reporting capabilities would be considered internally generated. Intangible assets are defined as either definite or indefinite. Those assets that carry a value over an unspecified time period are considered indefinite. Assets that only hold value for a time period that is specified, such as 10 or 20 years, are considered definite intangible assets. Businesses invest in both categories of asset over time according to the decisions made by the management in generating income. Building a company’s brand name, getting a business license, and filing patents are an example of management decisions to build intangible assets that affect the company’s growth.

Intangible assets are extremely hard to value accurately because there is usually nothing equivalent to compare them to. Their true value may differ considerably from the amount in the balance sheet. Assets that do not have an easily determined monetary value such as brand loyalty or intellectual property rights. Broadcasting rights are largely employed in the sporting arena – particularly for pay per view events. Usually, the broadcaster will pay a fee to the event host for the right to broadcast.

Indefinite Intangible Assets

Identifiable intangible assets are often indefinite, meaning they stay with a company for as long as it exists. Proprietary data and algorithms all fall into this bucket. For example, a social media platform’s algorithm governing its feed is an indefinite intangible asset, because it can exist as long as the company does and will Intangible Asset Definition add value over the long term. It could also be separated from the company and sold to someone else, if the company chose. In addition, all the expenses along the way of creating the intangible asset are expensed. However, intangible assets created by a company do not appear on the balance sheet and have no recorded book value.

The term intangible assets means assets considered to be intangible assets under generally accepted accounting principles. These assets include, but are not limited to, goodwill, core deposit premiums, purchased credit card relationships, favorable leaseholds, and servicing assets (mortgage and non-mortgage). Interest-only strips receivable and other nonsecurity financial instruments are not intangible assets under this definition. Intangible assets measurement on the financial statements can be difficult at times because sometimes it is hard to see the future benefit from holding an intangible asset. Other times it is difficult to measure an intangible assets total life. Amortize most intangible assets over a certain amount of time.

UTS 142.13 Accounting and Financial Reporting for Intangible Assets

Intangible assets created by a company do not appear on the balance sheet and have no recorded book value. An intangible asset can be considered indefinite or definite, like a legal agreement or contract. These agreements can prove to be an extremely valuable intangible asset – particular in markets whereby the employee can take the firm’s clients with them.

  • Unidentifiable intangible assets include reputation, client relationships, goodwill, and brand recognition.
  • Stock markets give indirectly an estimate of a corporation’s intangible asset value.
  • Assets that do not have an easily determined monetary value such as brand loyalty or intellectual property rights.
  • An intangible asset is a right or non-physical resource of a company.
  • For example, a company that sells software to a buyer is considered a service company.

Learn the definition of intangible assets and understand their different types. For example, Meta couldn’t list the Like button on its balance sheet because it’s an intangible asset it developed in-house. It could, however, theoretically list the “double tap” feature on Instagram, since it’s intellectual property it acquired when it bought Instagram—that is, it has a market value.

intangible assets

Amortization means dividing the cost of the asset according to how much it was used in each accounting period. Assets normally appear on a company’s balance sheet, a common financial statement generated in accounting software. But, intangible assets don’t always appear on balance sheets, according to Accounting Tools. When intangible assets have been recorded in a firm’s accounting records, they are then aggregated into the fixed assets line item on its balance sheet. Alternatively, they may be listed as a separate line item on the balance sheet.

Is a haircut intangible?

A service is an action that provides a buyer with an intangible benefit. A haircut is a service. When you purchase a haircut, it's not something you can hold, give to another person, or resell. “Pure” services are offerings that don't have any tangible characteristics associated with them.

If the firm makes $10 million from the patent, then it could be concluded that it is worth that much. The capitalized value of internally-generated computer software includes the direct costs incurred during the application development stage. These direct costs include direct labor comprised of wages and benefits. Physical hardware is capitalized separately according to capital asset guidelines.


Dr. Loy has a Ph.D. in Resource Economics; master’s degrees in economics, human resources, and safety; and has taught masters and doctorate level courses in statistics, research methods, economics, and management. Preliminary Project Stage – conceptual formulation and evaluation of alternatives, determination of the existence of technology, and selection of alternatives for the development of the software .

In other words, figure out the value of your net tangible assets by subtracting your assets from your liabilities, then subtracting that number from the market value of your business. In short, a calculation is made regarding how much the brand is worth as an intangible asset. The lack of physical substance would therefore seem to be a defining characteristic of an intangible asset. What this essentially means is the difference represents how much the buyer is willing to pay for the business as a whole, over and above the value of its individual assets alone. For example, if XYZ Company paid $50 million to acquire a sporting goods business and $10 million was the value of its assets net of liabilities, then $40 million would be goodwill.