Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Accounting for intellectual property?

Ghafele, Roya (2010): Accounting for intellectual property? Published in: Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice No. 5 (10 May 2010): pp. 521-530.


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Accounting constitutes a very specific form of language, which is highly standardized, mathematical in nature and seeks to uniformly and systematically describe events while avoiding expressions of individual creativity or explicit political positions. In this sense, accounting is a social, cultural and historical artefact rather than a natural or technical phenomenon and can therefore be viewed as the decisive instrument to create and maintain imagined business communities. On the balance sheet, IP experiences a specific form of authorization. It is represented in the discourse of accounting by ‘intangibles’, an imprecise term associated with the increasingly observed ‘gap between the market and book value’, while current accounting systems are determined by a tangible assets’ based perspective and offer little scope to document how IP relates to business performance. Accounting may thus be seen as a gate keeper of the status quo that poses significant challenges for IP-rich companies, confronted with the challenge to either communicate around the lingua franca of accounting or accept that under current accounting statements they cannot adequately document how IP relates to their business performance.

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