Document Type



Office of the Provost


The sui generis database right is an intellectual property right created in the European Union to stimulate investment in the curation of databases. Since its inception, communities engaged in research and development efforts have questioned its potential to incentivise database production, and posit that it stifles productive downstream uses of existing datasets. European courts have restricted the right’s ambit through a restrictive interpretation of the circumstances in which it applies, which we argue, enables downstream use of biological databases. Nonetheless, residual ambiguities about potential infringement of the right exist. The prospect of unintentional infringement can frustrate downstream innovation. These ambiguities are compounded because the criteria that determine whether or not the right applies are reliant on information that is not available to the prospective downstream users of public datasets. Repealing the sui generis database right is recommended. Legislatures are advised to refrain from the implementation of broad novel intellectual property rights in the future, without first adopting safeguards that mitigate the potential for such rights to frustrate the reuse of available intangibles to the detriment of pro-social innovation.


This work was published before Tania joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

IIC International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.