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Intangible Asset


An intangible asset is a non-physical asset that has a monetary value. It includes intellectual property like patents, copyrights, trademarks, as well as brand recognition, customer lists, and proprietary technology. Intangible assets add long-term value to the company as they are hard to imitate and contribute to income generation.


The phonetics of the term “Intangible Asset” is: In-tan-juh-buhl As-et

Key Takeaways

  1. Definition and Kinds: An intangible asset is a type of property that is not physical in nature but has value to the business that owns it. They include patents, copyrights, trademarks, business methodologies, and goodwill.
  2. Economic Life: The economic life of an intangible asset may be defined in terms of its usefulness to the owner. The lifespan of some intangible assets may be limited while others may not have an explicit end date.
  3. Valuation: Unlike tangible assets, the value of intangible assets may not be straightforward to calculate as they lack physical presence and their financial implications might not be reflected immediately in the company’s financial statements. However, despite their intangible nature, these assets can significantly contribute to the earning capacity and market value of a company.


The term “Intangible Asset” is particularly important in business and finance because it represents the non-physical assets that a company possesses, which can significantly contribute to a company’s value or worth. These include patents, copyrights, trademarks, brand recognition, goodwill, proprietary technology, and even business relationships. Intangible assets hold long-term benefits for the business and often help in generating revenue, drive growth or improve business efficiency. They are crucial in the modern economy where knowledge-based assets like intellectual property, technology, and brand recognition have high intrinsic value. While they may not be physically present or easy to quantify, they are crucial in determining the overall financial health and future potential of a company. Therefore, understanding and managing intangible assets can significantly impact a company’s strategic decisions and financial performance.


An intangible asset represents non-physical resources and rights that have value to a business due to the crucial role they play in the company’s ongoing operation and growth. These assets contribute to the long-term economic value of the business, often leading to competitive advantages in the marketplace. Examples of intangible assets include copyrights, patents, trademarks, brand recognition, customer lists, and goodwill among others. These provide essential tools for a company to generate revenue through product innovation, brand building, customer retention, and operational efficiency. The purpose of intangible assets is to contribute to the productivity, growth, and overall sustainability of a business. For instance, a well-known brand can help attract and retain customers, therefore playing a key role in driving sales and profits. On the other hand, a patented technology or process can give a company a unique competitive edge, allowing it to stay ahead of the competition and improve profitability. Intellectual property, such as patents, copyrights, and trademarks, can also be monetized directly, through licensing or franchising. In short, while intangible assets are not physical or easily quantifiable, their value and impact on business performance can be substantial.


1. Brand Recognition: Coca-Cola, for instance, is recognized worldwide. Its logo, name, and the perception attached to it is a valuable asset to the company, even though it can’t be physically touched or seen. 2. Patents and Intellectual Property: Biotech or pharmaceutical companies often hold valuable patents for their innovations. For example, Pfizer’s patent for the COVID-19 vaccine is a key intangible asset. Pfizer might not develop or produce the physical vaccine itself but the patent is considered a valuable asset.3. Trade Secrets: KFC’s “secret recipe” for its fried chicken, which is known to only a handful of people, has given it a unique competitive advantage over decades. It represents an intangible asset that contributes significantly to the company’s value.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is an Intangible Asset?

An intangible asset is a type of asset that’s not physical in nature. It includes things like patents, trademarks, copyrights, business methodologies, goodwill and brand recognition.

How do Intangible Assets add value to a business?

Intangible Assets add value to a business by contributing to revenue generation, brand recognition, and competitive advantage. They can also attract investors, customers, and talent.

Can Intangible Assets be bought or sold?

Yes, certain intangible assets can be bought or sold. For example, if a company is sold, its patents and trademarks often come as part of the deal.

What is the difference between tangible and intangible assets?

The main difference between tangible and intangible assets is their physical presence. Tangible assets have a physical presence and can be touched (like buildings and machinery), while intangible assets do not have a physical presence.

How are Intangible Assets accounted for on a balance sheet?

On a balance sheet, Intangible Assets are typically accounted for as non-current assets, as they yield long-term benefits. Since they are not physical, their value is often harder to determine than tangible assets, and they may be grouped together under intangible assets.

Is goodwill an intangible asset?

Yes, goodwill is considered an intangible asset. It represents the value of a business’s reputation, customer relationships, and overall brand.

Can Intangible Assets depreciate?

Unlike tangible assets, intangible assets do not depreciate in the conventional sense. However, they can become obsolete or less valuable over time, a process often referred to as amortization in the business world.

How is the value of an intangible asset measured?

The value of intangible assets can be measured using several methods, including cost, market, income, and relief-from-royalty methods. It often involves estimating the future revenue or cost savings attributable to the asset.

Are intangible assets tax-deductible?

Some intangible assets, such as patents and software, can be amortized for tax purposes over a period of years. However, tax regulations regarding intangible assets can vary, so it’s important to consult with a tax professional for accurate information.

: What happens to intangible assets when a company is sold?

: In a company acquisition, intangible assets like brand recognition, patents, and customer relationships can be transferred to the new owner as part of the overall business sale, provided there are no legal restrictions prohibiting such transfer.

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