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Intangible assets - Definition

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“Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted”.

(Albert Einstein 1879 - 1955, American theoretical physicist)


What are intangible assets? What are intangibles?

What is intellectual capital?  What are knowledge assets?


An asset is a claim to future benefits (value, cash flows). An intangible asset can be defined as a nonphysical claim to future value or benefits.

IIS1001.D2 defines an intangible as any event that creates or modifies perceptions of the future behavior, value or relevance, of an individual, group, or otherwise constituted organization.

Intangibles, intangible assets, knowledge assets and intellectual capital are more or less synonyms. All are widely used – intangibles specifically in the accounting literature, knowledge assets by economists and intellectual capital predominantly in the management literature.

Intangibles can be categorized in many ways (many of which you can find on this site):

- According to Baruch Lev there are three main “nexuses” of sources of intangibles (often a particular intangible asset is created by a combination of these sources):
    - Discovery (innovation),
    - Organizational practices, and
    - Human resources.
- Compare Edvinsson’s Skandia Navigator
- Compare Sveiby’s Intangible Assets Monitor

For further characteristics of intangible assets click here. For the relevancy of intangible assets click here.



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