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Database rights UK Brexit:

Database is a collection of data in an systematic and methodological manner which may be retrievable by computer or other means. There are two ways in which the data can be protected under the EU Law; copyright and a sui generis system.

The copyright protects the selection of materials and its organization and arrangement in a creative manner. It does not extend to the content of data itself. This means that the database may comprise of data which are not copyrightable. Yet by virtue of selection, arrangement and organization the database as a whole merits copyright. A classic example of such data would be a database consisting of contact information of a list of business clients.

For the content of the data to merit the sui-generis system of protection, there must have been a substantial investment in either obtaining, verification or presentation of the contents to prevent extraction and/or re-utilization of the whole or of a substantial part, evaluated qualitatively and/or quantitatively, of the contents of that database.

There is no requirement of registration of the database to be protectable either by copyright or/and sui generis system. From the moment of creation the database may merit protection by both means.

Database copyright post BREXIT:

Copyright is generally covered by a number of international instruments; the most important of which are the Bene Convention and the TRIPs Agreement, therefore, the protection afforded to database by copyright will not be affected even if the data is created on or after 1 January 2021.

Database sui generis system post BREXIT:

The UK Copyright and Databases Regulation 1997, implementing EU Directive 96/9/EC, conferred a proprietary rights on databases to the persons who has made substantial investments in obtaining, verifying or presenting the contents of the database.

Post BREXIT, the persons in the UK who make substantial investments pertaining to databases will not enjoy the proprietary rights in the European Economic Area. Only databases made by EEA nationals, residents or business are eligible for such protection in the EEA. The protection as such shall not extend to UK.

Databases in the UK created before BREXIT:

The protection of databases created in UK before 1 January 2021 shall not be affected by BREXIT.

What can businesses do about this?

Since BREXIT affects the protection of database by sui generis system, but not by copyright, businesses in the UK should consider different arrangements from 1 January 2021, whether by entering into copyright license agreements, franchise or other forms of agreements which secure their rights over the databases created in the UK post BREXIT.

Business in the EEA should also consider these types of arrangements in the UK post BREXIT should they wish to benefit from the sui generis system afforded to them in the EEA.


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