The Steam Engine

Thomas Kühnen is not only notorious among Germans: British and Dutch lawyers describe the Presiding Judge of the 2nd Civil Senate at the Higher Regional Court Düsseldorf as headstrong and occasionally brusque.

24 May 2017 by Mathieu Klos

Thomas Kühnen, presiding judge at the Higher Regional Court Düsseldorf, is Germany's most influential patent judge.

Looking downwards, his expression always somewhat cross, Kühnen rebukes the party counsel in his singsong Rhineland accent, “That’s not good enough, counsel, you’re going to have to go into more detail.”

If proceedings do not run smoothly, he gets angry, sniffs repeatedly, and is notorious for fidgeting back and forth in his chair. But above all, he is renowned for his expertise. Lawyers claim his rulings are read avidly by judges across Europe. He is said to be an extraordinary judge with excellent legal and technical understanding. “Visionary and pragmatic,” praised one respondent in the JUVE survey.

The patents community chose Kühnen as its ideal candidate for the judge’s panel at the UPC – he is still undecided as to whether he will join. “He is the perfect age to take a leading role in setting up the court and its case law,” said one respondent. Outside the courtroom, Kühnen is considered among Düsseldorf lawyers to be very lively and funny – another Rhineland trait.