Technological Competition and Patent Strategy: Protecting Innovation, Preempting Rivals and Defending the Freedom to Operate

Riccardo Cappelli, Marco Corsino, Keld Laursen, Salvatore Torrisi*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Drawing on the resource-based view of the firm, we examine the effect of technological competition over a patent on the firm's choice of patenting strategy. We claim that technological competition makes the traditional strategy of protecting focal innovations from imitation less likely and increases the likelihood of a play strategy — i.e. using patents to avoid the risk of hold-up by other patent owners, or as a bargaining chip in litigation and cross-licensing. However, we claim also that technological competition over a target close to the firm's core technology should lead to use of a fence strategy i.e. to blocking the commercial endeavors of rivals and preempting substitute inventions. We find support for our hypotheses using data from a large-scale survey of European patent applications.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104785
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number6
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • Technological competition
  • Intellectual property management
  • Patent strategy
  • Appropriability

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