The patent management trichotomy: Patenting, publishing, and secrecy
Journal article, 2017

Purpose Extant research and practice of patent management are often occupied with how to best utilize patenting as a source of competitive advantage. This paper instead suggests a patent management trichotomy where firms make strategic decisions between patenting, publishing, and secrecy. Approach The paper is conceptual in nature and draws on received IP-management literature to develop an analytical framework. Findings We suggest that the choice between patenting, publishing, and secrecy can be understood in terms of differences in the degree to which the firm can appropriate value from the invention and the degree to which it can operate freely. Originality/value Through an analysis along the dimensions of direct and indirect appropriation as well as static and dynamic freedom to operate, the article conceptualizes the choice between patenting, publishing, and secrecy in a way useful for management decisions as well as for academics.

strategic disclosure


defensive publishing



intellectual property management


Marcus Holgersson

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Entrepreneurship and Strategy

Martin Wallin

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics

Management Decision

0025-1747 (ISSN)

Vol. 55 6 1087-1099

Subject Categories


Economics and Business

Business Administration

Law (excluding Law and Society)

Driving Forces

Innovation and entrepreneurship



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