Legal protection of databases in the UK
Produced in partnership with Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

The following IP practice note produced in partnership with Herbert Smith Freehills LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Legal protection of databases in the UK
  • UK database right
  • Protecting databases
  • What is a database?
  • Traditional copyright in the content of a database
  • Copyright in the structure of a database
  • Originality and fixation
  • Ownership
  • Term
  • Infringement, defences and remedies
  • More...

Legal protection of databases in the UK

UK database right

Under the Withdrawal Agreement (see Article 58), database rights that existed in the UK or EEA before 1 January 2021 (whether held by UK or EEA qualifying persons or businesses) continue to exist and can be enforced in the UK and EEA for the rest of their standard duration.

From 1 January 2021, new databases made by UK citizens, residents, and businesses are not eligible for protection in the remaining EEA Member States and new databases made by EEA citizens, residents, and businesses are not protected in the UK.

The UK has also created a UK-only database right effective from 1 January 2021. This is available to UK citizens, residents, and businesses and gives protection only in the UK. In the EU/EEA these databases need to be expressly protected via licensing agreements, by contract such as website terms and conditions or by technological methods such as encryption. Copyright protection for original databases is not affected by the UK’s exit from the EU and therefore may, where appropriate, be relied on for protection of the structure of the database but not the contents of the database.

This Practice Note deals mainly with UK database right but also, in some parts, sets out the position under EU law. References to Directive 96/9/EC (the EU Database Directive) are made throughout this Practice

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