In the medical nutrition (MN) market, insights into the motives driving intellectual property (IP) protection strategies remain unclear. This emerging market has expressed the pressing need for clarity on the subject of applicable IP methods. The aim of this study is therefore to evaluate the role of patents and alternative IP instruments for the protection of innovations in the MN market, and to construct an IP decision framework facilitating IP selection. Data collection consists of a literature study on the topic of IP strategies, combined with a supplementary questionnaire sent out to MN companies.Although there are many different strategic motives to apply for a patent in the MN market, the classic protective motives prove to be most important. While our findings acknowledge that patenting is of paramount importance to this industry, different scenarios call for combining the various IP methods for the optimal protection of the MN innovation. One must therefore always carefully consider additional IP rights. Our IP decision framework provides both MN companies and academic R&D departments with a tool to assess the best applicable IP strategy for the protection of MN inventions. © 2013 .