The Patent Lawyer's Guide to Fascism: On Individual Autonomy and Private Law

42 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2017 Last revised: 4 Feb 2018

Andrew C. Michaels

George Washington University - Law School

Date Written: February 3, 2018


This essay presents an unusual and potentially valuable way of thinking about patent law. It is worth considering the ways in which the structure of private law may affect our susceptibility to undesirable forms of societal organization. This essay considers how a well structured patent system could potentially reduce our susceptibility to fascism by: (1) promoting an ethos of independent creative thought, and (2) facilitating market entry by startups, thereby reducing market concentration and possibly reducing authoritarian hierarchy. One legitimate utilitarian aim of the patent system might be to thus promote horizontal individualism, which could tend to work against fascism’s extremely nationalistic vertical collectivism. Promotion of individual autonomy might be an under-recognized benefit of the patent system, suggesting a valuable lens through which to view not only patent law, but also other areas of private law.

Keywords: Fascism, Patents, Autonomy, Individualism, Market Concentration, Neoliberalism

Suggested Citation

Michaels, Andrew C., The Patent Lawyer's Guide to Fascism: On Individual Autonomy and Private Law (February 3, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Andrew C. Michaels (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States

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