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Neoliberalism is a complex, multifaceted concept. As such, it offers many possible points of entry into my primary field of study, that of intellectual property (IP) law. We might begin by investigating tensions between IP law and a purely economic conception of neoliberalism, for example. Or we might consider whether or how IP law might be “insulated from democratic governance” while also being rapidly assembled. In these few pages, I want to focus instead on a different line of inquiry, one that reveals the powerful grip that one particular neoliberal conception has on our contemporary imaginary: the neoliberal conception of the state. Today, both those who defend robust private IP law and their most prominent critics, I will show, typically describe the state in its first instance as inertial, heavy, bureaucratic, ill-informed, and perilously corruptible and corrupt.

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