A friend of mine was asked by a patent attorney he knows how I can be a patent attorney and against IP. The assumptions behind the question are odd; here was my reply.
First, when there are tax laws, there is a need for tax lawyers. When there is cancer, we need cancer doctors. There is nothing wrong with advising people or companies as to how to navigate the positive law in society.
Second, just as having a gun is not a crime since the gun can be used for good or evil, so having a patent is not in an of itself evil–there are both legitimate and illegitimate uses of them. For example if I am sued for patent infringement I will use my patents in a countersuit. In fact most patents are held for defensive purposes–to ward off suits.
Third, it could be that being a patent lawyer has helped me to see why patent law is unjustified.
Fourth, this kind of assumption reminds me of what annoys me about criticisms by liberals and blacks of any black such as Clarence Thomas who opposes the standard liberal crap on affirmative action etc. It’s as if they think the unwilling “beneficiary” of their liberal policies should also shut up about it and toe the line. Do the advocates of IP want those most able to oppose it to be muzzled? Can only those ignorant of how IP works complain about it?
Fifth, I have yet to see a sincere or informed pro-patent opinion by a single patent attorney. The few I know who are cynics like me are resigned to it; the patent lawyers who promote the system invariably repeat the tired and pathetic arguments in favor of it. I have yet to find a single patent lawyer who promotes IP who has a sincere or serious argument in favor of it. (For more on this see There’s No Such Thing as a Free Patent, Yet Another Study Finds Patents Do Not Encourage Innovation, Patent Attorney Admission (archived comments), Miracle–An Honest Patent Attorney!; archived comments) I don’t mind patent attorneys doing their jobs, to put bread on the table. But when they start trying to justify their profession by repeating the bankrupt arguments of utilitarians and statists, they open themselves to criticism.
Update: See my post, The Most Libertarian IP Work.