IAS 38 prescribes the accounting treatment for intangible assets. Intangible assets subject to the scope of another standard are excluded from the scope of IAS 38, e.g. (IAS 38.2–8.3):

  • Intangible assets that are held by an entity for sale in the ordinary course of business (IAS 2 and IAS 11).
  • Intangible assets subject to leases within the scope of IAS 17.
  • Goodwill acquired in a business combination (IFRS 3).
  • Non-current intangible assets classified as “held for sale” in accordance with IFRS 5.

In determining whether an asset that incorporates both intangible and tangible elements should be treated as property, plant, and equipment according to IAS 16 or as an intangible asset according to IAS 38, it is necessary to assess which element is more significant. For example, software for a computer-controlled machine tool that cannot operate without that specific software is considered an integral part of the related machine. The software is treated as part of the machine tool (i.e. as property, plant, and equipment) if the physical and not the intangible component is more significant. By contrast, when a physical and an intangible asset do not constitute an integral unit (e.g. application software for a computer) they are treated as two different assets (IAS 38.4).

Rights under licensing agreements for items such as motion picture films, video recordings, plays, manuscripts, patents, and copyrights are excluded from the scope of IAS 17 and ...

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