Protection of a databases

A multitude of IT services rely on databases: food retail sites and applications, games, logistics, banking… They are everywhere and are becoming essential for the functioning of services: databases are highly valuable. Moreover, their development often requires significant investment. It is, therefore, important for developers and companies to protect these efforts.

1) How to protect my database?

A computer system’s database is protected in two complementary ways: by traditional copyright law and by the sui generis right of database producers.

    • Classic copyright:

Article L112-3 of the French Intellectual Property Code (CPI) establishes copyright protection for “collections of works or various data, such as databases, which, by the choice or arrangement of the materials, constitute intellectual creations.”

Databases are considered to be intellectual works and are protected by copyright law,a branch of intellectual property. This right protects creations of all kinds (literary, musical, graphic, scientific, etc., except for ideas and concepts), regardless of their form, genre, merit, or purpose.

For databases, copyright law protects the form, structure, arrangement, layout, and presentation of the material. It thus protects the form of the database.

This protection is automatic: it arises from the mere fact of creation by the author. Copyright does not require registration with an intellectual property institution.

This right protects a work provided that it is original. The database must satisfy an adjusted requirement of originality: it must be an “organised and structured set” of information, i.e., a real “selection or arrangement of materials“, and not a mere collection of data. It is the arrangement of the database that counts since it is this element that is protected. The work must also be fixed, i.e., materialized.

This right confers an economic right on the database, opposable to all, which makes it possible to control its communication to the public and to prohibit or authorise the use of the work, in return for remuneration. It allows infringement proceedings to be brought. This exclusive right lasts until 70 years after the death of the author.

It also grants a moral right that allows one to oppose disclosure without consent, to oppose use that would distort the work or request the mention of the author’s name. This moral right is perpetual.

However, as copyright arises automatically, However, it may be difficult to prove the date of creation or who the author is. It is therefore advisable to obtain evidence to prove the date and ownership of the creation, using proof of anteriority, such as the certificate.

    • =Sui generis right for database producers:

The term ‘sui generis right’, which means ‘of its own kind’ in Latin, is used since this right has been created specifically for a unique legal situation, outside the category described above.

This right especially concerns database producers, i.e., the person who takes the initiative to invest. This protection rewards the investments made by the producer in creating the content of his/her database and the risks taken. It is provided for under Article L341-1 of the French Intellectual Property Code.

Thus, this right protects the content of the database based on a:

  • Financial, material, or human investment,
  • Which must be substantial, qualitative, or quantitative,
  • For the constitution, verification, or presentation of the contents of the database.

The resulting rights are valid for 15 years from the date the database was first made available to the public. These 15 years are renewable with each new substantial investment in the database. The protection could thus in theory be perpetual.

This right makes it possible to prohibit the extraction or re-use of all or a quantitatively or qualitatively substantial part of the contents of the database. It also ensures that the database producer has some control over the conditions of use of his/her database. However, exceptions to this right exist, such as private extractions, which are permitted.

Given the strategic importance of databases and the protections offered by intellectual property law, it is essential to be prepared to be able to take full advantage of this right in the event of future litigation. It is, therefore, strongly advised to obtain evidence of the investments made (costs linked to the creation of the database, purchase of equipment, developers’ pay slips, data collection and insertion mechanisms, etc.).

In addition to keeping any element that can demonstrate such investments, the formalities for securing this evidence are the same as those set out above for copyright: proof of anteriority.

2) How to secure my copyright with the service?

The anteriority certificate enables you to prove that your creations existed at a certain date, and that you are the author. This type of service is important, as seen previously, for creations that depend on copyright, but also to secure evidence of the investments made in the constitution of the database.

It is, in fact, essential to obtain proof of anteriority to be able to prove that you are indeed the author of your creation at a certain date. This type of service is important, as seen previously, for creations that depend on copyright, but also to secure evidence of the investments made in the constitution of the database.

The anteriority certificate provides indisputable proof of anteriority, through the intervention of a Bailiff (depending on the offer selected), but also through the qualified electronic timestamp, which has evidential value, including internationally.

To apply for a anteriority certificate, the process can be completed online. Please visit the following address: