PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.
A recent case concerning the misuse of database information illustrates the wisdom of preparing comprehensive evidence in support of one’s arguments.
Databases can be valuable assets and are often assembled and maintained at great cost. In the case in question, a firm which holds a database of more than 150,000 healthcare professionals, and spends more than £100,000 annually keeping the records up to date, took action against another company which it claimed had used information from the database without authority.
The owner of the database had sought to protect the information it contained from subsequent transfer by putting ‘seed’ entries into it. These are entries which are not real data but which are returned indirectly to the database owner, who is then able to discover if there has been unauthorised use of its database.
In the case in point, a company which was unauthorised to use the database sent marketing communications to ‘seeds’. The database owner sought compensation.
The problem with the case as brought was that the owner of the database refused to reveal how many ‘seeds’ it contained and it was therefore not possible for the court to come to a firm conclusion as to the extent of the misuse of the data contained therein.
The failure to provide this information resulted in the judge being unwilling to give summary judgment on the issue of infringement of copyright.