Intangible Assets

Updated on January 2, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byAshish Kumar Srivastav
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Intangible Assets Meaning

Intangible asset is an asset which does not have any physical existence and cannot be touched like goodwill, patents, copyrights, franchise etc. They are long-term or long living assets as they are used included for more than 1 year by the company.

Intangible Assets Types

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For eg:
Source: Intangible Assets (

#1 – Goodwill

Below is the Goodwill amount reported by Google Inc from all its acquisitions.

Goodwill Amortization

It is a type of assets that are recognized and valued when one entity tries to acquire the other entity. Goodwill is a separate kind of intangible assets where goodwill is never amortized. But other intangibles are amortizedIntangibles Are AmortizedAmortization of Intangible Assets refers to the method by which the cost of the company's various intangible assets (such as trademarks, goodwill, and patents) is expensed over a specific time period. This time frame is typically the expected life of the more.

Goodwill Formula =Acquiring cost of the business – Net asset value of the company.

The management of the organization is responsible for the valuation of the goodwillValuation Of The GoodwillGoodwill valuation is the systematic evaluation of the goodwill of the company to be shown in the balance of the company under the head intangible assets and top methods to value include Average Profits Method, Capitalization Method, weighted average profit method and the Super Profits more of the organization every year. When the company acquires another company, then the acquired goodwill should be mentioned in the balance sheet. For example company, A is purchasing company X for Rs 2000000, and the net asset value is Rs 1500000. So the difference Rs 500000 is treated as goodwill.

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#2 – Copyrights

Copyright is a type of assetType Of AssetAssets are the resources owned by individuals, companies, or governments expected to generate future cash flows over a long period. There are broadly three types of asset distribution: 1. Based on convertibility (current and non-current assets), 2. Physical existence (tangible and intangible assets), 3. Usage (operating and non-operating assets)read more with the legal rights of the creator of the original work. This exists in many countries. By obtaining this right, the original work can be used by the one who obtains the right to use the work. E.g., journals, books, magazines, etc.

#3 – Trademarks


source: Google 10K

Trademark is used to legally protect the logo, brand name, sign, and design of a firm. The trademark owner can be an individual, partnership firm, or any kind of legal entity. Trademark protects the trademark owners from others using it.

#4 -Patent

Patents provide the owner right from others using, selling, importing from using the invention or the product for years. Where one company can purchase the patent from other companies and can use, invent, or develop the product.


  • Lack of existence, where it cannot be seen, touched, or even feel.
  • It should be identifiable.
  • Intangible assets can be acquired or purchased, and even they can be licensed, leased, or rented.


  • General intangible assets can be purchased and sold like copyrights of the musicians or artists sale copyrights of music or album.
  • They are used to increase the sale value. Goodwill of the company can lead to an increase in the price of the product of the company.
  • Suppose the business has the patents and trademark. The company can license the patents to others who can produce products for them.
  • Amortization of the intangible assets: This allows spreading the expenses across the life span of the intangible. The collective amortization expense of several years reduces the business income during the year. Thus the business tax will also get reduced. Amortization of it is used for both accounting purposes and tax purposes.
  • It provides identity to the company even if the value of the intangibles is valued less when compared to the tangible assetsTangible AssetsTangible assets are assets with significant value and are available in physical form. It means any asset that can be touched and felt could be labeled a tangible one with a long-term more. Where if the brand name is stronger, it helps in creating a new set of customers to the products. The value of intangibles is important for company growth and development.


  • Internally generated goodwill is not recorded in the balance sheet of the business. It is difficult for all to understand the value of these intangible assets.
  • The exact value of these assets cannot be derived easily.
  • Intangibles need to be constantly monitored like a half year or yearly so that they can find an approximate value of those assets.
  • Sometimes it can bring the overvalue to the organization.

Intangible Assets Valuation

The following are three major methods of intangible asset valuation.

#1 – Income Approach

This approach is mainly used on the assets which produce income or generates cash flow. Income approach converts the total amount to a single discounted amount for a particular period. Difficulty in this approach is to distinguish the cash flowCash FlowCash Flow is the amount of cash or cash equivalent generated & consumed by a Company over a given period. It proves to be a prerequisite for analyzing the business’s strength, profitability, & scope for betterment. read more, which is linked to a particular intangible asset.

#2 – Cost Approach

The cost approach considers the historical cost and the estimated costEstimated CostCost estimate is the preliminary stage for any project, operation, or program in which a reasonable calculation of all project costs is performed and thus requires precise judgement, experience, and more. It usually ignores the amount, time, and risk of performance of a competitive environment. This cost includes the new reproduction cost of the product and the current cost of a similar new property.

#3 – Marketable Approach

This approach is based on the value of the similar intangible asset. This market data is used in the income-based model as well. The direct market source is available on the internet, which is very useful to compare the market value. It involves buying, selling, leasing, and licensing.


The intangible asset on the balance sheet is one of the important parts of the organization as they are the long-term assets that will be with the organization until the end of the organization. It is very difficult to derive the value of it as they cannot be seen or feel. It is very difficult to estimate or to value the assets. This helps the organization to internally develop the assets or acquire the assets from other organizations or even can take those assets for leaseLeaseLeasing is an arrangement in which the asset's right is transferred to another person without transferring the ownership. In simple terms, it means giving the asset on hire or rent. The person who gives the asset is “Lessor,” the person who takes the asset on rent is “Lessee.”read more or rent.

This has been a guide to what is Intangible Assets and its Meaning. Here we list the types of Intangible Assets – Goodwill, patents, copyrights, trademarks, etc. along with advantages and disadvantages. We have also included the top 3 methods of valuing intangible assets. You may learn more about finance from the following articles –

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