See capital asset for intangibles issues that arise in accounting, including a more detailed sports example.
See capital (economics) for issues that arise in economics, including a more detailed breakdown of types of assets.
Intangibles are generally regarded as pertaining to:
- Customer good will, employee morale, increased bureaucracy, and aesthetic appeal (i.e. negative reaction to a billboard).
- A colloquial expression for qualities in an individual or group of individuals, especially those organized in an official group (e.g. a sports team or office) which affect performance but are not readily observable. They are often cited as a reason for performance which is surprisingly better or worse than expected.
- An expenditure of time on an activity by a person (such as leveraging know-how, knowledge, collaboration, relationships, systems, and process)
- A defensible legal property right conferred by a Legal Act (copyright, trademarks, patents, designs, customer lists), or financial transactions (R&D, goodwill, intellectual capital)
Intangibles also have different meaning depending on the context:
- In business, intangibles are commonly referred to as intangible assets or intellectual capital.
- In law, legally created intangibles are referred to as intellectual property and include trademarks, patents, customer lists, and copyright.
- In sports, intangibles typically refer to the value driver that differentiates one team's performance from another.
- In government, intangibles typically refer to social capital and standard of living
- In arts, intangibles commonly refer to the artists unique embodiment of substance and form.
- In financial analysis, intangibles refer to the difference between the book value per share and the share price, or the firm's accounting value and its publicly traded market value (established through the Stock Market, or through mergers, acquisitions, etc).
- In mathematics, intangibles are objects that can be proven to exist by a nonconstructive proof (usually, but not always, involving the axiom of choice), but cannot be explicitly constructed. An example would be a Lebesgue-unmeasurable subset of the real numbers.