Intangible Asset Law and Legal Definition

An intangible asset is one that has no physical being, other than a writing, to evidence its existence. For example, the goodwill of a business and a promissory note evidencing a debt are intangible assets. Intangible assets represent value, but lack a phyical embodiment able to be seen and touched, other than perhaps being represented by a document. Intellectual property rights, such as patents, copyrights and trademarks, are intangible assets. Current accounting practices do not routinely measure or report on many intangible resources, such as human capital, brand and R&D capability.

*Business-Related Intangible Assets
(1) Trademarks, Tradenames.
(2) Service marks, collective marks, certification marks.
(3) Trade dress (unique color, shape, or package design).
(4) Newspaper mastheads.
(5) Internet domain names.
(6) Noncompetition agreements.

*Goodwill-Related Intangible Assets
(7) Customer lists.
(8) Order or production backlog.
(9) Customer contracts and related customer relationships.
(10) Noncontractual customer relationships.

*Artistic-Related Intangible Assets
(11) Plays, operas, ballets.
(12) Books, magazines, newspapers, other literary works.
(13) Musical works such as compositions, song lyrics, advertising jingles.
(14) Pictures, photographs.
(15) Video and audiovisual material, including motion pictures, music videos, television programs.

*Contract-Based Intangible Assets
(16) Licensing, royalty, standstill agreements.
(17) Advertising, construction, management, service or supply contracts.
(18) Lease agreements.
(19) Construction permits.
(20) Franchise agreements.
(21) Operating and broadcast rights.
(22) Use rights such as drilling, water, air, mineral, timber cutting, and route authorities.
(23) Servicing contracts such as mortgage servicing contracts.
(24) Employment contracts.

*Technology-Based Intangible Assets
(25) Patented technology.
(26) Computer software and mask works.
(27) Unpatented technology.
(28) Databases, including title plants.
(29) Trade secrets, such as secret formulas, processes, recipes.