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Intermediate Accounting (Kieso)
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Short Answer

Explain the difference between artistic-related intangible assets and contract-related intangible assets.

The distinction between artistic-related intangible assets and contract-related intangible assets is that copyrights protect artistic-related assets, but contract-related assets represent the value of rights arising from contractual agreements.

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Artistic-related intangible assets

Ownership rights to plays, photos, photographs, and video and audiovisual content are examples of artistic intangible assets. Copyrights safeguard these ownership rights.

Contract-related intangible assets

These are the worth of rights arising from contractual agreements. Examples are franchise and license agreements, building permissions, broadcast rights, and service or supply contracts.

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Merck and Johnson & Johnson

Question: Merck & Co., Inc. and Johnson & Johnson are two leading producers of healthcare products. Each has considerable assets, and each expends considerable funds each year toward the development of new products. The development of a new healthcare product is often very expensive, and risky. New products frequently must undergo considerable testing before approval for distribution to the public. For example, it took Johnson & Johnson 4 years and $200 million to develop its 1-DAY ACUVUE contact lenses. Below are some basic data compiled from the financial statements of these two companies.

(all dollars in millions)

Johnson & Johnson


Total assets



Total revenue



Net income



Research and development expense



Intangible assets




  1. What kinds of intangible assets might a healthcare products company have? Does the composition of these intangibles matter to investors—that is, would it be perceived differently if all of Merck’s intangibles were goodwill than if all of its intangibles were patents?
  2. Suppose the president of Merck has come to you for advice. He has noted that by eliminating research and development expenditures the company could have reported $4 billion more in net income. He is frustrated because much of the research never results in a product, or the products take years to develop. He says shareholders are eager for higher returns, so he is considering eliminating research and development expenditures for at least a couple of years. What would you advise?
  3. The notes to Merck’s financial statements note that Merck has goodwill of $1.1 billion. Where does recorded goodwill come from? Is it necessarily a good thing to have a lot of goodwill on a company’s books?

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