Strategic patenting in the last decades has been studied extensively to reflect on the trends in patenting motives of firms though mostly for large firms and from developed countries. Studies point to the numerous emerging roles of patents. How firms apply their patenting strategy, is still a fragmented area as major variation across sectors exists. Small- and medium-sized firms, rarely studied in detail have been taken up for study by exploring the pharmaceutical sector where patents are integral to success in business. A survey cum secondary data-based study generates insights on firms' ranking of patenting motives and the impact of firms' characteristics on these motives. Protection of invention is reaffirmed as the primary motive, though licensing motive has slipped in rank. Further, inter-firm differences through regressions show that the number of granted patents and firm age positively and significantly impact firm's patenting motives but firm size has no impact. Copyright © 2021 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.