Database Rights

A university wanted to commercialize the research materials that its teachers and research students had accumulated over the years through an online database and it instructed me to advise them. There were some patents and there was some copyright and design right protection for software and designs but I was instructed that the bulk of the university’s research portfolio consisted of know-how and show-how.

I advised the university to carry out an intellectual property audit to find out what was already protected by patents or other registered intellectual property rights, what could and should be patented or otherwise protected, what could reasonably be protected by copyright, design rights and other rights and so forth. That exercise was useful in itself productive because it  uncovered several potential income streams.

My client then decided to set up an online database of materials that could not be patented or were not worth patenting. I drafted the access terms which stressed the subsistence of copyright and database rights in the database pursuant to s.3 (1) (d) and 3A of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and Part III of The Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997. The database contained abstracts of the research materials and the terms upon which it would be licensed. My final job was to settle model licences for the university.

This was actually part of a much bigger project which was intended to make better use of public funding and tax concessions.