Intangible assets are identifiable long-term assets of a business that have no physical existence. Examples include goodwill, patents and copyright. Some intangible assets have indefinite or unlimited useful lives, like goodwill. Other intangible assets like patents have a fixed useful life and are amortized over their effective life.

The ATO allows the cost of acquiring intangible depreciating assets to be written off over their effective life.

The effective life of the following intangible depreciating assets is as follows:

  • Standard patent – 20 years.
  • Innovative patent – 8 years.
  • Petty patent – 6 years.
  • Registered design – 6 years.
  • Copyright (except film) – the shorter of 25 years or the period until the copyright ends.
  • A licence – the term of the licence.
  • A licence relating to copyright – the shorter of 25 years or the period until the licence ends.
  • In-house software – 4 years.
  • Spectrum licence – term of the licence.
  • Datacasting transmitter licence – 15 years.

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