Database Rights Protection

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We continue to publish arbitration awards on IT disputes. Today we have chosen the topic of protecting exclusive rights to databases, namely information and other content that makes up their content.

Recall that since 2008, not only the structure has been protected in the database, but also its content, provided that the creation of such a database required significant financial, material, organizational or other costs. By law, such costs are assumed when at least ten thousand independent information elements (materials) are included in the database.

Given that the legal language is difficult to understand (especially after the holidays), at the end of the text we give brief comments in Russian.

Subject of dispute

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the company, created by a team of its former developers, in connection with the alleged use by the defendant of a database identical in content and structure to the plaintiff’s database, created by monitoring information on tenders posted on the Internet.

The reason for applying to the court was the sending by the respondent of proposals to companies on the granting of access rights to a similar database for a fee.

The plaintiff believed that the defendant used the result of the plaintiff's intellectual activity, which constitutes his trade secret, and unlawfully offered the pharmaceutical market participants a database identical in content and structure to the database, the exclusive right to which belongs to the plaintiff. According to the plaintiff, the defendant could not, 10 days after registration of the organization of the defendant, create the same database that the plaintiff filled for a long time.

Claims have been filed for the protection of exclusive rights by suppressing actions that constitute a threat of violation of the exclusive right, publishing a court decision on a violation with an indication of the actual copyright holder of the database, withdrawing from circulation and destroying at the expense of the defendant the equipment, devices and materials used in violation of the plaintiff's exclusive rights to a database.

The court of first instance and appeal dismissed the claims.

Motivation Decisions

1. According to paragraphs. 2 of Article 1260 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, the database is an objective set of independent materials (articles, calculations, regulations, court decisions and other similar materials), systematized so that these materials can be found and processed using electronic computing machines (computers), and the manufacturer of the database is the person who organized the creation of the database and the collection, processing, location of its constituent materials (paragraph 1 of Article 1333 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation).

2. The plaintiff shall bear the burden of proving the use by the defendant through a computer systematized plaintiff aggregate of independent materials.

3. The plaintiff provided inadequate evidence. In support of his claims, the plaintiff only refers to the fact that the defendant offers an unlimited number of persons to use materials similar to the materials contained in the database, the rights to which belong to the plaintiff (information from the respondent’s website on the Internet.

Printouts of the unloading from the plaintiff’s databases and defendant are not appropriate evidence in the case, because they do not allow with a sufficient degree of clarity to establish the presence or absence of circumstances justifying the claims and objections of persons, taking into account Leica Geosystems in the case, as well as other circumstances that are important for the proper consideration of the case.

4. The defendant stated that it lawfully owns a database similar to the plaintiff’s database on the basis of a license agreement with a third party.

5. Therefore, the plaintiff did not prove that:

a) the respondent’s database is similar to the plaintiff’s database using the totality of the materials presented in it, their systematization, the principle of searching and processing by computer ;

b) the respondent’s database is derived from the plaintiff’s database and could not be created without using the database, the rights to which belong to the plaintiff .

As a result, the courts concluded that the defendant acquired exclusive rights to use a different database. The latter is an independent result of intellectual activity, enjoying legal protection, and is a systematic set of information in a certain way from various sites on the Internet, formed by automatically monitoring the relevant websites, access to which is open, using specialized programs.

Case Comments

1. It is highly likely that the circumstances of the case correspond to the plaintiff’s version: a situation where developers leave the company, taking with them all the results of the work, are not uncommon in practice.

2. The plaintiff lost the case because He did not provide the court with objective evidence that the database distributed by the defendant copies its database in a substantial part.

3. In fact, the case in point is a violation of copyright to the database as a kind of structure and related rights to the totality of information materials included in it.

4. It is necessary to take care of protecting your own developments at the stage of their creation. The results of the work should be documented in detail. In this case, the court should have submitted the plaintiff's internal documents describing the structure of the database, the principles of systematizing materials in it, a description of the algorithms for searching and processing materials from the database, requirements for materials on the subject, composition, technology for collecting and filling the database, etc.

5. It was necessary to carry out state registration of the database, within the framework of which a description of its structure and materials should be deposited.

6. The plaintiff could require the defendant to submit similar documents and involve a third party who provided the defendant with a license database

7. On the basis of documents identifying the database (Clauses 4, 5), it was necessary to conduct an examination, within which to compare the plaintiff’s database with the respondent’s database. The court does not have the necessary knowledge in the field of computer science and linguistics, therefore, it reasonably considered the printouts provided to be insufficient.

Judicial act

The decision of the Ninth Arbitration Court of Appeal No. 09АП-33768/2012-ГК dated 26.11. 2012 year

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