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Rouse in Profile: Thomas Ernby

Published on 28 Jun 2024 | 4 minute read
At home at the intersection of Law and Technology

Thomas is a European Patent Attorney and Litigator, and Rouse Principal, based in our office in Gothenburg, Sweden.  He already had extensive R&D experience when he began working with patents in 2005; now he provides the full range of patent services in relation to various technologies including analysis software, naval architecture and mechanics.

The intersection of technology and law is becoming an increasingly important area, involving huge challenges and intellectual stimulation. Thomas, who has an interest and background in both IP law and science and technology, is in his element there.  Working with, and finding solutions for, clients at the cutting edge of technology is his idea of the perfect job.  Getting there, however, seems to have been more a natural process than a considered plan.

From his earliest school days in Skövde, a relatively small town about 150 km north east of Sweden’s second largest city Gothenburg, Thomas had intended studying Law when he left school.  He read a lot and was fascinated by legal argument so it seemed a natural choice.  But by the time he got to high school the focus was more on scientific and technical subjects.  In Sweden at the time, studying these subjects opened up a lot of interesting career opportunities – and besides, Thomas was fascinated by technology and loved studying physics and maths.  So, he abandoned the idea of law and enrolled in an Engineering programme at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg – a university consistently ranked among the top 100 universities in the world for Engineering and Technology.

Although his parents were both teachers, and created a family environment in which education and learning were highly valued, they did not put any pressure on their children to follow any particular career path.  For that, Thomas is grateful.  He firmly believes that is how children should be brought up, and that is how he and his wife are trying to bring up their own three children. 

From the start, Thomas’s fascination with science and technology was an intellectual fascination.  Whereas some of his friends loved pottering about with engines and machines, he loved learning.  His interest was more theoretical.  At university, he didn’t really turn his mind to what he might do when he graduated – he just enjoyed studying.  When the time came, however, in about 1996 or 1997, the jobs on offer in Sweden were so tempting that, although he initially considered doing a PhD, he answered an advertisement for a technical consultant and was offered the position.  For the next three years he worked with the company on a range of technologies, but particularly semi-submersible platforms used in offshore roles such as offshore drilling rigs and oil production platforms.  Then, when his manager subsequently decided to leave and set up his own company to do the same kind of work, he asked Thomas to join him, which he did.

After five years there, he began to ask himself whether he really wanted to be doing this sort of work for the rest of his life.  He had always been interested in reading and writing whereas now he seemed to be totally immersed in technical calculations.  He felt he needed to expand his horizons, add other dimensions to his work.   Although he had been a named inventor on a patent, he had never thought about working in the patent field.  But now, speaking to various people about it, he began to see it as an interesting option.  So when, in 2005, Valea, the European IP firm subsequently acquired by Rouse, advertised for a junior Patent Attorney, he decided to apply.  He had always enjoyed the process of learning and at Valea he was in his element, learning new things every day. Almost twenty years later, at Rouse, he still is.

Not surprisingly, Thomas’s love of learning is not limited to professional matters; it extends to all sorts of things, but two in particular: music and golf.

His interest in music began when he was about 16.  He enjoyed listening to music and decided he would like to learn to play an instrument.  So he bought a cheap guitar and got started. He enjoyed it and continued playing over the years, until about ten years ago he decided to take a more disciplined approach and took lessons, including lessons in music theory, and spent several days at a guitar workshop in Amsterdam.  Now, whenever he can, he plays in a group with two friends.  They play all sorts of music, but particularly like bluegrass, a genre of American music developed in the 1940’s that, like jazz, allows for improvisation.  His wife also sings and plays in a band, but so far none of the children has followed suit – which is exactly as it should be according to Thomas, sticking to his firmly held view that parents should not impose their interests and preferences on their children.

Thomas’s second passion is golf and recently his younger daughter, entirely of her own volition, decided to join him.  He is absolutely delighted about that, but determined not to allow his enthusiasm and encouragement to overstep the mark.  He doesn’t have as much time as he would like for golf but goes to the practice range whenever he can.  He enjoys practising and is happy to persevere.  In fact, he firmly believes that to learn and to achieve anything of value, professionally or otherwise, you have to be prepared to work hard and stick with it.

In a way, Thomas has come full circle and achieved his early ambition to work with the Law.  But now, working as he does at the interface of Law and Technology, he is not just working with the Law; he is making use of all his natural inclinations, interests and experience as well.  Everything has fallen into place.

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Rouse Editor
+44 20 7536 4100
Rouse Editor
+44 20 7536 4100