Definition: Acquisition of intangible fixed assets

National accounts

This heading groups all acquisitions of intangible fixed assets made by a particular unit. These include all types of intangible fixed assets considered as such by the Fourth Council Directive. (i.e. costs of R&D, concessions, patents, licences, trade marks and similar rights and assets, goodwill and payments on account).


The European System of Accounts (ESA) defines intangible fixed assets in a different manner, they consist of mineral exploration, computer software, entertainment, literary or artistic originals and other intangible fixed assets such as new information, specialised knowledge, etc., not elsewhere classified, whose use in production is restricted to the units that have established ownership rights over them or to other units licensed by the latter. Only assets that are intended to be used for more than one year are included.

Acquisition of intangible fixed assets are valued as follows:
- Mineral exploration should be valued either on the basis of the accumulated amounts paid under contracts awarded to other institutional units for the purpose, or on the basis of the costs incurred for exploration undertaken on own account. The part of exploration undertaken in the past that has not yet been fully written off should be revalued at the prices and costs of the current period;
- Computer software should be valued on the basis of the purchasers' price paid on the market, on the basis of estimated basic prices when produced in-house, or on the basis of costs of production when such prices are not available. Software acquired in previous years and not yet fully written down should be revalued at current prices or costs (which may be less than the original price or cost);
- Entertainment, literary or artistic originals and other intangible fixed assets should be valued at the acquisition price when these intangible assets are actually traded on markets. In the case of intangible assets that have been produced on own account, it may be necessary to value them on the basis of their costs of production, appropriately revalued at prices of the current period and written down. Otherwise, it may be necessary to use estimates of the present value of the expected future receipts to be received by owners of such assets.
Eurostat, "European System of Accounts - ESA 1995", Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg, 1996

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