FAQs about Intellectual Property



A database can be defined as compilation of independent works, data or other materials which are organised in a regular or methodical way and are available by electronic or other means. List of customers or telephone directories are an example of a database.

Database Protection

A database is protected as an intellectual property right:

1.            Under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1998;

a.            Where database is regarded within the class of literary works.

b.            The test is of originality which means the work must be original in order to be protected as an intellectual property. The database must constitute ‘the author’s own intellectual creation’.

c.             There author must have used his time, skill and effort in arranging the database. Simple arrangement of names in alphabetical order will not pass the test of originality.

d.            Tables and compilations are subject to the same test of originality

e.            Copyright protection for a database lasts for 70 years from the death of the author.

f.             Database created in the course of the employment is owned by the employer

g.            The owner of a database can stop others from using it

2.            Under the Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997

a.            If database falls under the definition of the 1997 Act it will get protection regardless of whether it is protected as a literary work.

b.            It needs to be established that there is a substantial investment

c.             Substantial investment can be financial, technical, or human.

d.            The creator must ‘invest substantially in obtaining or verifying data that has come from independent sources’.

e.            The creator of the database is the owner and is defined as someone who “takes the initiative in obtaining, verifying or presenting the contents of a database and assumes the risk of investing in that obtaining, verification or presentation”.

f.             Database right lasts for 15 years from the end of the year in which it was finished

g.            If anyone uses a ‘substantial part of the database’ without the consent of the maker, the right will be infringed.  However, if it is publicly available, then there is not infringement.