May 4, 2022 |

IP Protected Data: Essential Questions for Data Sharing Agreements

Everything can be broken down into data – website traffic, customer statistics, financial analysis, and more.

Data has become a form of currency, exchanged like any other good or service. Whether you run a business that collects and analyzes data, or you want to solicit the services of such a business, it’s important to consider the legal implications, particularly when it comes to intellectual property protection.

Can databases be registered as intellectual property?

Databases may have intellectual property (IP) protection or have the potential to receive protection in the future.

Data itself cannot be IP protected, as it is factual information - and facts cannot be copyrighted. However, compilations and arrangements of data are considered unique intellectual work, which means they are eligible for copyright.

What are the potential problems sharing IP protected data?

If databases can fall under IP protection, issues may arise regarding ownership and access. Consider the following questions in regard to the data:

  • Who owns the data?
  • How is the data allowed to be used?
  • How long can the data be accessed?

Ignoring these questions can lead to potential disputes with clients and partners. It is easy to fall into a misunderstanding or have a difference of opinion, especially when crucial resources are at stake.

Fortunately, there are precautions you can take to minimize these issues.

Important questions to answer before sharing IP protected data

Before entering into an agreement, consider the following questions:

  • What is the resource being shared?
  • Who owns the resource?
  • What is the purpose of sharing the database?
  • Who will access the database?
  • How will the resources be maintained?
  • What product, process, or service is to be developed or commercialized?
  • Who owns the result?

If you are the party who created the database:

  • Ensure that users are accessing only the data they’re paying for.
  • Set a time for how long the data can be accessed.
  • Be specific about what users can or cannot do with the data.
  • Ensure the user’s access to the data is terminated at the end of the contract.

If you are the party who granted access to the database:

  • Ensure you are granted all rights to the licenses paid for.
  • Ensure you retain the rights to your processes and results.
  • Determine whether you need surviving rights to continue using your product.

After satisfactorily answering these questions, you have the outline of a clear understanding. It is important to set these terms from the beginning and communicate them clearly with partners to avoid future conflicts and misunderstandings.

Protecting your business when sharing or collecting data

By this point, you should be able to put together the outline of a data-sharing agreement – but it is no replacement for professional legal advice.

Whether you want to copyright your database or investigate the implications of sharing data, it is best to have legal counsel look over your agreement. An experienced lawyer can parse out the nuances of your situation and guide you to the best solution.

The Han Santos team specializes in intellectual property law, from copyright and licensing to business strategy. With years of experience and a large pool of legal resources, we are here to help you navigate through the complexities of sharing confidential data.

Contact us with your questions and we will be happy to help.


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