An acquisition is one type of event which substantially increases the number and value of intangible assets that a company holds. For example, say company A acquires company B. Company A is then the new owner of all of company B’s tangible and intangible assets. The intellectual property of company B (including copyrights, business methods, trademarks and patents), customer lists, brand awareness, goodwill and all other intangible assets of company B are all added to the intangible assets already owned by company A.
Substantial intangible asset shifts also occur when previously intangible assets become tangible assets, as in the case of a pharmaceutical company that develops a new medicine. When the potential new medicine is in the research and development stage, as yet unproven, it is an intangible asset. But if the medicine is successfully proven, patented and marketed, it shifts to becoming a tangible asset. This adds to the company’s overall revenue, but decreases its intangible assets. However, if the medicine becomes a huge success, recognized on a national and international basis, then the brand name of the medicine may become a new intangible asset for the company.
Time itself is an event that decreases a company's proportion of intangible assets. For example, a licensing right with a defined time period decreases in value year to year because the company that purchased the rights has increasingly less time to profit from this intangible asset. Because this type of intangible asset has a specific value (the price the company paid for it) and a definable lifespan, the value of this asset is amortized over the period of time for which it was purchased and recognized through the amortization process as decreasing from year to year.