Are patents and copyrights fixed assets? Let us look into the blog to know more!

“Patents and Copyrights as Fixed Assets” is a multifaceted topic that explores the position of these intellectual property rights within the context of business finance and accounting.

It seeks to address how patents and copyrights, often intangible and yet crucial for business innovation and creation, fit into the category of fixed assets – long-term, non-liquid assets that a company uses in its operations to generate income.

This discourse focuses on how patents and copyrights, unlike traditional fixed assets like machinery or real estate, have unique characteristics and implications.

Are they depreciated or amortised over their useful life? How does their value fluctuate over time? What is their impact on a company’s financial health and valuation?

Are Patents and Copyrights Fixed Assets?

Yes, a patent is considered an intangible asset in accounting and business finance.

Unlike tangible assets like machinery, buildings, or land, which have a physical form, intangible assets lack physical substance.

However, they still hold significant value for a business.

As similar to the copyright protection, patent is given to the new invention and manufacture.

A patent provides rights to the holders to make similar inventions or sell them in the particular period time.

Because of these exclusive rights, patents can be extremely valuable, particularly in industries such as technology and pharmaceuticals where innovation is key.

As such, they are amortised over their useful life, meaning their cost is gradually recognised as an expense on a company’s financial statements.

The patent’s lifespan, potential to generate revenue, and legal enforceability all contribute to its value as an intangible asset.

Is Copyright an Intangible Asset?

Yes, a copyright is indeed considered an intangible asset. An intangible asset is a type of asset that is not physical in nature, and a copyright fits this definition.

Like other intangible assets, copyrights can have significant value.

They provide their owners the potential to generate revenue, usually through the sale, licensing, or use of the copyrighted material.

In accounting terms, copyrights are usually capitalised and then amortised over their legal or economic life, which helps reflect their decreasing value over time in a company’s financial statements.

How to Register for Patent & Copyright?

Registering a patent or a copyright can be a complex process, given that they are legally enforceable rights and therefore must adhere to the rules set by the appropriate governmental bodies.

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Here are the general steps:

Patent Registration

Preparation: Before beginning the application process, you need to conduct a thorough patent search to ensure your invention has not already been patented.

This can be a complex task and may require professional assistance.

Application: After determining your invention is indeed unique, the next step is to prepare a detailed description of your invention.

A patent application typically includes a title, abstract, a full description of the invention, claims, and drawings if necessary.

Filing: Once the application is prepared, it can be filed with the patent office in your country.

Review: After filing, your application will be reviewed by a patent examiner. The examiner may ask for clarification or additional information.

Issuance: The patent grant is a issuance that will help you sell or manufacture more inventions. In general, the patent holders have exclusive rights for 20 years.

Copyright Registration

Preparation: Ensure you have a complete copy of the work you want to copyright. This could be a novel, song, film, photograph, software code, etc.

Application: Complete the application form for copyright registration.

Submission: Submit the application form along with a non-returnable copy of the work you want to copyright.

Review: The U.S. Copyright Office will review your application. If there are no issues, they will register your work and issue a certificate of registration.

Certification: Registration certificate will confirm the copyright registration with your name.

Related Article: Copyright Registration in India


In conclusion, while patents and copyrights are intangible in nature, they undeniably qualify as fixed assets in business accounting due to their long-term value and capacity to generate income.

The financial value and strategic importance of these intellectual properties are critical, and they often play a fundamental role in a company’s growth, innovation, and competitiveness.

However, their nature as intangible assets does present unique challenges in valuation, amortisation, and management.

Understanding these nuances is key to effective financial planning and strategy in today’s knowledge-based economy.

As the digital age continues to evolve, the role and treatment of patents and copyrights as fixed assets will remain a significant and compelling topic of study and discussion.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are patents and copyrights?

Patents and copyrights are forms of intellectual property protection granted by law.

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A patent gives the inventor an exclusive right to manufacture, use, or sell an invention for a certain period of time, generally 20 years.

A copyright, on the other hand, provides the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for the creator’s life plus 70 years.

2. Are patents and copyrights considered fixed assets?

Yes, patents and copyrights are considered fixed assets. In accounting terms, a fixed asset is a long-term tangible piece of property or equipment that a firm owns and uses in its operations to generate income.

Although patents and copyrights are intangible, they are treated as fixed assets because they have a useful life longer than a year and can help a company generate revenue.

3. How are patents and copyrights valued on a company’s balance sheet?

The value of patents and copyrights on a company’s balance sheet is often based on the initial costs involved in obtaining them, including registration and legal fees.

Over time, these assets are amortised, meaning their value is gradually decreased to reflect their diminishing economic or useful life.

4. Can the value of patents and copyrights change?

Yes, the value of patents and copyrights can change. If the potential income that can be generated from a patent or copyright increases, its value can rise.

Conversely, if a patent or copyright is expected to generate less income, its value can decrease. Changes in legal or market conditions can also impact their value.

5. How does owning patents and copyrights benefit a company?

Owning patents and copyrights can provide a company with competitive advantages by protecting their inventions or original works from being used or sold by others.

This can lead to significant income generation, either through the direct use of the patented or copyrighted material or through licensing agreements with other parties.

These assets can also enhance a company’s value in the eyes of investors and other stakeholders.