Strategic non-disclosure in patents

24 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2019 Last revised: 3 Mar 2022

See all articles by Alexandra K. Zaby

Alexandra K. Zaby

Seeburg Castle University

Diana Heger

IHS Economics

Marek Giebel

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 28, 2022


Patent law requires the full, clear, and concise disclosure of an invention in exchange for the protection of the intellectual property. This paper presents a theoretical analysis of the strategic motives to limit knowledge disclosure in patents and how this affects follow-on innovation. Using USPTO patent examination data we use Office actions associated with insufficient disclosure to
investigate whether and how the modification of a patent specification in the course of examination impacts follow-on innovation. We find that inventors “game the system” using strategic non-disclosure as a means to reduce follow-on innovation.

Keywords: patent disclosure, patent examination, follow-on innovation

JEL Classification: L1, O33, O34

Suggested Citation

Zaby, Alexandra Karin and Heger, Diana and Giebel, Marek, Strategic non-disclosure in patents (February 28, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Alexandra Karin Zaby (Contact Author)

Seeburg Castle University ( email )

Seeburgstr. 8
Seekirchen am Wallersee, 5201

Diana Heger

IHS Economics ( email )

Bleichstr. 1

Marek Giebel

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Economics ( email )


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