Strategizing uncertainty: Strategic Patenting as a Practice in the Pharmaceutical Industry



Tiroler Wissenschaftsfond (TWF)


Today’s patent system is facing a paradox. It has never been as successful as today in terms of the number of patentsfiled and granted annually worldwide, while, at the same time, it faces severe criticism. Increasingly, practices related to strategic patenting (e.g., blocking competitors through patenting) are found to replace the mere protection function of patents, with impacts for firms and society as a whole, as it affects innovation, price setting, and consumer and social welfare. I explore strategic patenting in small and big firms in the pharmaceutical industry. In particular, I seek to explain how firms engage in strategizing uncertainty through patent-related practices, aiming at drawing a fine-grained picture of the relation of uncertainty and different types of strategic patenting, aiming at developing a theory of strategic patenting by drawing on the perspective ‘Strategy as Practice’ (SaP). Based on 30 semi structured interviews with managers, patent attorneys and scientists, as well as strategy documents of big pharma firms, and observations of strategic practices in law firms and pharma firms, I show how strategic patenting is used to mitigate and cope with, but also to induce uncertainties for third parties. As such, strategic patenting might not only be a response to, but also a source of uncertainty. I contribute to the literature on strategic patenting by showing how both Intellectual Property Regulations (IPR) and strategy are not static but only enacted through a set of distinct practices deriving from and inducing economic, regulatory and scientific uncertainties. This holds implications for practitioners and regulatory policy making.

Wichtigste Erkenntnisse

Project not yet completed
KurztitelStrategizing uncertainty
StatusNicht begonnen