The important characteristic of intangibles is that they lack physical substance. It is very difficult to estimate the value of intangibles and there is a high degree of uncertainty regarding the length of time over which they will provide future benefits.
IAS 38 clarifies that intangibles should not be recorded as other assets. Also this standard does not apply to intangible held for sale in the normal course of business of the entity. Similarly differed tax assets, leases, assets arising from employee benefits, financial assets, mineral rights, and other exploration and evaluation assets, and most importantly goodwill arising from business combinations do not fall the preview of IAS 38.
The identifiable assets should be separable. The entity is in a position to sell, transfer, and license, rent or exchanges the intangibles. It is important to note that intangibles should be clearly distinguishable and controlled separately from the goodwill. Such identifiable intangibles may have arisen from contractual or other legal rights, whether those are transferable or not, or separable from the entity or other rights and obligations.
The initial accounting for intangible is largely dependent on whether they are purchased or developed internally. When intangibles are purchased from others, they are initially recorded at their cost. The amount capitalized will include the purchase price and, like other assets, costs of preparing them for their intended uses. As a result, costs of registration or legal fees related to acquisition are also capitalized. When intangibles are purchased in a business combination, the cost to be recognized is the fair value at acquisition. When intangibles are acquired free of cost or received as a grant, the fair value or nominal value and directly attributable costs of such intangibles is recognized.
All other costs of intangibles are charged to revenue. Internally generated intangibles are not recognized as