Updated October 12,2020:

What Is Patent Amortization?

Patent amortization is the tactic through which companies allocate the price of patents (intangible property) over a period of time. The system to calculate a patent's amortization is much like the straight-line depreciation calculations for other intangible property.


Small companies buy patents to guard their innovations. Corporations should purchase patents from different firms for current innovations or through federal authorities for brand-new innovations. The price of a current patent is the quantity the corporation paid for the patent. The price of a patent for a brand-new invention contains the registration, legal charges, and documentation charges. Corporations amortize a patent utilizing its useful life, although a patent is legally valid for 17 years.

How to Amortize a Patent

Patents need to be amortized regularly over the course of their life. Report the preliminary patent price on the corporate ledger as an asset. Include an annual entry for amortization expenses that reduces the asset account until it reaches zero.

When your small enterprise buys a patent from a third party, they usually follow standard accounting rules, or  generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). These rules require you to amortize the price in your accounting data. Amortization helps you correctly document bills within the intervals through which you obtain a financial profit from a patent, which helps you keep from overstating or understating your income. A debit will increase the patent account, which is an asset on the balance sheet. GAAP permits only patents acquired from third parties to be recorded in your balance sheet and amortized.

For instance, assume a patent’s complete price is $52,000. Debit $52,000 to the patent account. Credit the identical quantity to the money account in the identical journal entry. A credit decreases money, which can also be an asset on the balance sheet. Subtract the residual worth you expect the patent to attain by the end of its useful life from its price.

Calculating a Patent's Amortization

Use the lesser of the patent's financial life and its useful life to find out the amortization interval. The useful lifetime of a patent is the time until it expires. For instance, if your organization has a patent that expires in 20 years, but it is only anticipated to be worthwhile for 10 of these years, the amortization interval needs to be 10 years.

  • To calculate your patent’s amortization, divide the worth of the preliminary price of the patent by the patent's anticipated useful life. The result is the amortization of the patent.
  • For example, if the preliminary price is $100,000 and the useful life span is 10 years, then the patent's amortization is $100,000/10 years = the patent's amortization quantity of $10,000 per 12 months.
  • Record the amount of amortization on your company's balance sheet.
  • A line item will exist on the balance sheet for intangible property.
  • A line beneath this may say "Lower Amortization."
  • Report the cumulative amortization quantity on this line item and subtract it from the quantity of patents.

To document, make an entry crediting the gathered amortization-patent account for the quantity of the amortization. Alternately, many firms merely choose to credit the patent account immediately for the quantity of the amortization. Record the amount that is amortized per year on the company's income statement. The amortization expense is considered a cost of doing business that's subtracted from income. It's normally included beneath the "depreciation and amortization" line item.

An equal debit to the credit score made within the final step needs to be made to the amortization expense account (in each instance).

A patent asset shouldn't be amortized for longer than the life span of the safety afforded by the patent. If the anticipated useful lifetime of the patent is even shorter, use the useful life for amortization functions.

Identifying Useful Life

Useful life is the amount of time that an asset is considered useful to its proprietor. For instance, when a pharmaceutical firm receives a patent on a new drug, it is only for a selected time period, which is usually up to 20 years. After that point, different pharmaceutical firms can create an identical drug. Therefore, the drug’s useful life is 20 years.

A patent's worth relies on the size of its useful life or its legal life, whichever is shorter; however, neither can span longer than 40 years. The patent's legal life is the period of time that the patent is covered by applicable regulations, whereas its useful life is how long the corporation expects to make use of the patent to fabricate or promote the products protected by the patent. The useful life could hypothetically be indefinite, whereas the legal lifetime of the patent has a set limit. However, the corporation might discover that their anticipated useful life is shorter than the legal life, particularly in a quickly growing industry. In both cases, the shorter of the two is used.

To obtain the patent’s estimated useful life, you have to identify the period of the patent. For instance, consider that your invention’s patent can be protected for 10 years, which begins when the patent was first granted. This can help you create the useful lifetime of your patent. Nonetheless, the useful lifetime of a patent might change over time because of issues corresponding to advances in expertise. For instance, there are inventors who assumed their patent would be useful for 20 years, however after 10 years technological advances made their patent ineffective, so they can possibly expense (write off) the remaining worth.

Determine the Initial Cost of the Patent

Decide the preliminary price of the patent. You can possibly add up all of the research and design (R&D) prices incurred during the invention’s design process. If R&D prices are expensed until future financial advantages are possible, then future prices are capitalized (added to the intangible asset - patent account) and amortized. Patent prices go far past the preliminary price of improvement. A number of the regulatory prices embrace patent utility price, prosecution prices to confirm its uniqueness, and an issuing price.

Upkeep charges are also charged every 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years to continue the patent's validity. There may also be a submitting price that relies on a variety of claims related to the invention's specific utility, which can range from $400 to $1000, or more. The greatest costs for most patent candidates are the fees for the patent attorney that files the precise patent application.

Keep Good Records

You need to keep documentation of all invoices, patent grants, prices of analysis and improvement, and all other information regarding the worth or useful lifetime of your patent for no less than seven years for future audit functions. Be aware of acquisition dates and all costs associated with each of your patents.

Identifying Amortization vs. Depreciation

Both amortization and depreciation spread the price of an asset over its useful life. Amortization and depreciation are yearly quantities reported on an organization's balance sheet and earnings statement. Amortization refers to spreading the price of a patent over its useful life. Depreciation refers to spreading the price of a tangible asset over its estimated life. Since patents are intangible, they're amortized.

Only gadgets that have an identifiable financial life span can be amortized. Other intangible properties that have indefinite life spans are usually not amortized; however, they are evaluated for relevancy and risk. If these properties do not decrease in relevance or experience ruin of any kind, the indefinite life property will stay on your balance sheet indefinitely. An instance of an indefinite life, unamortized asset could be a digital music service. So long as the service is free from ruin and continues to be economically relevant, it stays on a balance sheet.

Straight-Line Amortization

Intangible properties are assets an organization owns that have worth but are not physical. Common intangible properties inside an organization include patents, logos, and franchise licenses. Amortization is the method of allotting the price of an intangible asset over its useful life. Straight-line amortization is one methodology of allocating this price. Business owners ought to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of straight-line amortization to find out if it's the applicable methodology to make use of their enterprise.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Straight-Line Amortization

The straight-line amortization methodology is much like the straight-line methodology of depreciation. The main advantage of straight-line amortization is its simplicity. Most firms use the straight-line methodology to amortize intangible property as a result of the property functioning consistently over time. The straight-line methodology is simple to grasp and apply in enterprise.

The drawback of the straight-line methodology is that it acknowledges tax bills slower than accelerated strategies of amortization. Bills cut back internet earnings, which consequently decrease an organization’s tax legal responsibility.


The distinction between the amount an organization pays to buy another agency and the book worth of the purchased firm is considered goodwill. Book worth is set by calculating the attained firm’s property at actual market worth. To calculate goodwill, subtract the attained firm’s liabilities from the actual market worth of the property. Actual market worth is the quantity the property can sell for on the open market. After goodwill is calculated, estimate the useful lifetime of goodwill and amortize the intangible asset.

For example, imagine that your small enterprise acquires an organization with property with an actual worth of $100,000 and liabilities totaling $50,000. You count on the useful lifetime of the property to equal five years. The calculation for the straight-line methodology is ($100,000 - $50,000) / 5, which equals $10,000. Your organization must debit amortization expenses for $10,000 and credit score goodwill for $10,000 yearly for the next five years.

Trademarks and Franchise Licenses

Logos signify an emblem, phrase, or design that an organization legally registers for enterprise functions. Another firm can't use the registered trademark of an organization without its written authorization. The fee to acquire or renew a trademark is absolutely amortizable. Corporations can also amortize any prices related to defending their registered trademark. An enterprise proprietor who purchases a franchise license can amortize any related prices.

Franchise licenses give business owners the authority to promote specific services or products and use a registered trademark. The amortization of logos and franchise licenses are much like different intangible property.

How to Account for a Patent

A patent is taken into account as an intangible asset because a patent doesn't have bodily substance and supplies long-term worth to the owning entity. The accounting for a patent is identical to other intangible assets.

Initial Recording

If the corporation as a substitute purchased a patent from another corporation, the acquisition worth is the preliminary asset price.


If a patent does not supply worth, or supplies a decreased degree of worth, it is important to acknowledge the impairment and scale back or get rid of the carrying quantity of the asset.


As soon as the corporation is not making use of the patented thought, the asset could be derecognized by crediting the balance within the patent asset account and debiting the balance within the gathered amortization account. If the asset has not been absolutely amortized at the time of derecognition, any remaining unamortized balance should be recorded as a loss.

R&D Expenditures

Be aware that the research and design (R&D) prices required to develop the thought being patented cannot be included as part of the capitalized price of a patent. These R&D prices are as a substitute charged to expense as incurred. The concept behind this remedy is that R&D is inherently risky and without assurance of future gain, so it shouldn't be thought of an asset.

Capitalization Limit

In application, the prices of acquiring a patent could be so small that they don't meet or exceed an organization's capitalization restriction. If that's the case, consider these prices as expense is incurred. In many bigger firms with larger capitalization limits, patents are hardly ever recorded as property except when they've been bought from different entities.

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