Database Rights

If you believe that your database has been copied or otherwise unlawfully obtained in whole or part and is being used to your detriment, Briffa can help.

Taking action based on breach of statutory protection, is one of a number of options. Experienced legal advice as to the best strategy and prospects of success is recommended. Our lawyers have that vital, specialised, IP litigation experience.

Most businesses compile information, whether it’s a list of products on a website, a list of clients, customers or suppliers, or other large compilations of information, in the form of a database.

In legal terms, the first test under English law, for whether records constitute a database,  and have the benefit of statutory database rights protection, is whether that the information is compiled in a systematic or methodical way so as to be individually accessed. 

Protecting Database Rights 

How is a database protected?

A database is afforded protection as an intellectual property right by one of the two following ways:

  • Under the laws of copyright found in the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1998
  • In its own right as a database using the Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997

One of the benefits of owning a database which comes within the statutory definitions in the above Acts is that protection will last for 15 years.

The rules are surprisingly technical and the best way to look at this issue, in the event of a problem, is in conjunction with other possible legal options, which may be contractual or based on copyright, contract or employment law, as appropriate. Experienced lawyers will guide you through to the right solution.

The statutory database rights legislation has, to date, rarely been tested at Court. Perhaps this is because the rights are most relevant where confidential data is not otherwise protected i.e a situation where you create a database but do not protect it as confidential.

The best example would perhaps be a website database such as list of products sold. Whilst this is deliberately put into the public domain, it is not intended that competitors should be able to copy it and save time and costs by using it themselves.

Taking legal action based on breach of statutory database rights may involve, where advised, an urgent injunction application (our solicitors are experienced in this tricky and risky type of Court application) or a damages claim. As with legal disputes generally under English law, proving loss is rarely straightforward.  

How Briffa can help

We can help you:

  • maximise the protection of your database rights legally and in practical terms.
  • maximise revenue streams from commercialising your data and database whether via licensing or otherwise..
  • by investigating and taking swift and decisive legal action where you suspect unlawful misuse of your data, copying and/or use of your database,  whether by competitors or employees or former employees.

Related content
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IP audits


IP litigation


Confidentiality and data protection

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