An Intangible Asset is an identifiable non-monetary asset, without physical substance, held for use in the production or supply of goods or services, for rental to others, or for administrative purposes. Enterprises frequently expend resources, or incur liabilities, on the acquisition, development, maintenance or enhancement of intangible resources such as scientific or technical knowledge, design and implementation of new processes or systems, licenses, intellectual property, market knowledge and trademarks (including brand names and publishing titles). Common examples of items encompassed by these broad headings are computer software, patents, copyrights, motion picture films, customer lists, mortgage servicing rights, fishing licences, import quotas, franchises, customer or supplier relationships, customer loyalty, market share and marketing rights. Goodwill is another example of an item of
intangible nature which either arises on acquisition or is internally generated. If an item covered does not meet the definition of an intangible asset, expenditure to acquire it or generate it internally is recognised as an expense when it is incurred. However, if the item is acquired in an amalgamation in the nature of purchase, it forms part of the goodwill recognised at the date of the amalgamation . Some intangible assets may be contained in or on a physical substance such as a compact disk (in the case of computer software), legal documentation (in the case of a licence or patent) or film (in the case of motion pictures). The cost of the physical substance containing the intangible assets is usually not significant. Accordingly, the physical substance containing an intangible asset, though tangible in nature, is commonly treated as a part of the intangible asset contained in or on it.
In some cases, an asset may incorporate both intangible and tangible elements that are, in practice, inseparable. In determining whether such an asset should be treated under AS 10, Accounting for Fixed Assets, or as an intangible asset under this Statement, judgement is required to assess as to which element is predominant. For example, computer software for a computer controlled machine tool that cannot operate without that specific software is an integral part of the related hardware and it is treated as a fixed asset. The same applies to the operating system of a computer. Where the software is not an integral part of the related hardware, computer software is treated as an intangible asset. As per AS-26, internally generated goodwill is not recognized as an asset because it is not an identifiable resource controlled by the enterprise that can be measured reliably at cost.