Patent strategies of small technology-intensive firms are difficult to explain with standard incentive arguments based on intellectual property rights. This paper develops a rationale for patent filing as a disclosure strategy. We develop a two-sender signaling game to study patenting incentives of two technology start-ups to file in a large-scale patent system with the goal to attract a user firm. Both start-ups may decide to invest in costly modification of their patent application before filing. The paper identifies a separating equilibrium in which the high-quality inventor files and so separates from its technology competitor. Of particular interest is the study of pooling and semi-separating equilibria, as well as the impact of subsidies. We find that a higher quality of a country’s inventions, reflected in the possible innovative steps and thus in higher expected profits for foreign user firms, may increase the chance of the relatively lower-quality inventor to enter international technology markets.