The District Court of Düsseldorf appoints a new chairman of the Third Patent Chamber

Tilmann Büttner is no stranger to the German patent scene. He started his career as a judge at the District Court of Düsseldorf in April 2007, and in 2008 he entered the field of patent litigation, joining Civil Chamber 4b.

After working at the Federal Ministry of Justice, Büttner was a member of the startup team of Chamber 4c when it was reorganized as the Third Patent Chamber in Düsseldorf in 2012 under the leadership of Presiding Judge Sabine Klepsch. Later he also worked in the Civil Chamber 4a. In addition, he was deputy chairman of both chambers.

Büttner returns to the patent

Tilmann Büttner

As a member of Chamber 4a, he participated in the ruling prohibiting Wilkinson from selling razor blades in Germany that fit the “Mach 3” razor by the competing company Procter & Gamble.

As is typical for German intellectual property judges, Büttner gained further experience as a research assistant at the Federal Court of Justice from 2017 to 2020. There he worked for the 1st Civil Senate responsible for competition law, trademarks and copyright. In August 2021, he became president of the Criminal Chamber of the District Court in Düsseldorf. With the current nomination to the Civil Chamber, 4a returns to its roots in patent law.

The chambers are returning to full strength

Filling such vacancies in Germany usually takes longer. However, with Büttner’s quick appointment, the court quickly provided clarity to the patent boards. Just a few weeks ago, the Unified Patent Court announced that Bérénice Thom, long-time president of Civil Chamber 4a, would join the UPC as a full-time judge.

The UPC also caused changes in other parts of the Düsseldorf patent court. For example, Ulrike Voß, with whom Büttner worked closely during his first years as a judge, moved to UPC full-time. The 15th Civil Senate of the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf, of which Voß was president, will no longer deal with patent disputes in the future.

The UPC also appointed Daniel Voss, who heads Civil Chamber 4b, as a judge; currently works part-time at the local branch in Munich. Sabine Klepsch, who chaired the Civil Chamber 4c for many years, also joined the local Hamburg branch on a part-time basis.

The number of cases is falling

As Büttner fills the last vacancy, judges responsible for future national patent disputes are elected in Düsseldorf. In the court of first instance, these are Civil Chambers 4a, 4b and 4c, composed of judges Tilmann Büttner, Daniel Voß and Sabine Klepsch respectively. In the second instance, responsibility for patent cases falls to the Second Civil Senate of the Higher National Court with presiding judge Stephan Fricke.

However, as JUVE Patent reports this week, the caseload in Düsseldorf, as in most other German patent courts, has decreased further. In 2023, only 237 newly filed patent cases were brought to the district court – a decrease of 36.5%. One reason may be the introduction of UPC and its relatively high acceptance among patent holders in the consumer goods, mobile communications and health technology sectors.