intangible asset

  

Definition

Reputation, name recognition, and intellectual property such as knowledge and know how. Intangible assets are the long-term resources of an entity, but have no physical existence. They derive their value from intellectual or legal rights, and from the value they add to the other assets. Intangible assets are generally classified into two broad categories: (1) Limited-life intangible assets, such as patents, copyrights, and goodwill, and (2) Unlimited-life intangible assets, such as trademarks. In contrast to tangible assets, intangible assets cannot be destroyed by fire, hurricane, or other accidents or disasters and can help build back destroyed tangible assets. However, they normally cannot be used as collateral to raise loans, and some intangible assets (goodwill, for example) can be destroyed by carelessness, or as a side effect of the failure of a business. Whereas tangible assets add to an entity's current market value, intangible assets add to its future worth. An approximation of the monetary value of a firm's intangible-assets is computed by deducting the net value of its tangible assets from its market value. In some cases (such as the Coca Cola trademark), the value of a firm's intangible assets far outweighs the value of its tangible assets.

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