Healthcare information provider Binley's has won a landmark court decision against pharmaceutical mailing services and marketing business Precision Marketing Group for infringing its database rights.
Binley's showed that the Precision Group used data without a licence for a medical directory mailing.
Binley's was able to prove that Precision had infringed the information provider's rights by extracting and re-utilising a substantial part of its database of GP practices in the UK.
Precision used a 10-year-old version of the database originally supplied by Binley's to Phillip Bothwell Healthcare Consultants in April 1997.
A single "seed" mailing received by Binley's enabled itm ultimately to demonstrate to the Court that a substantial part of the database as a whole had been extracted.
Seeding is the practice of planting details in a database that enable the owners of databases to monitor the use of those databases.
According to Chris Sleep, an intellectual property law specialist at legal firm Birketts, the final judgement issued last week is of huge benefit to Binley's, the data-publishing industry and database owners generally.
Sleep, whose firm acted for Binley's, said the finding underlines the role that a properly implemented seeding strategy can play in the enforcement of rights in data.
"This judgement provides an invaluable insight into the approach that the courts will adopt when considering what might constitute a 'substantial' part based on evidence determined through the analysis of seeds," he said.
The judgement sheds light on a previously uncertain area of the law, says Sleep, which should provide data owners with some confidence when it comes to enforcing their rights through the courts.