Judgment No. 23/2018 of the Provincial Court Of Barcelona of 19 January (ECLI: ES: APB:2018:187). Intellectual property: legal protection of databases: “sui generis” right. Protection requirements. Originality.

Mr. Marcos is the author of a climbing guide published in 2011 which includes information about climbing areas in the mountainous region of the Boi Valley and technical information required for practicing this sport. The guide is organized as an index divided into 9 chapters. The information was acquired from the field work conducted by the author and from other climbers that the author interviewed in person.

Mr. Porfirio is the developer of an application for mobile phones that also contains data about climbing areas in all of Catalonia, including the regions of the Boi Valley. This application contains a topographical map of Spain, showing the different climbing regions, and uses three search criteria (sectors, big walls, or routes).

Mr. Marcos files a claim bringing an action for an injunction and prohibition of illegal activity and for the application to be recalled from the market as he understands that his guide is a database and is susceptible to protection under a “sui generis” right according to Article 12 LPI (Spanish Intellectual Property Law). He furthermore claims that he has climbed most of the routes in the Cavallers region, data for which can be found in his publication, with the understanding that this data was extracted from his guide without any involvement or contact whatsoever with the plaintiff. The judgment of the lower court dismisses that the guide is a database.

Mr. Marcos files an appeal against judgment before the Provincial Court, claiming that his guide is not merely a compilation of data and that his work provides information that allows locating the elements in a tailored manner, thereby possessing a high degree of originality.

The issue being debated is whether or not the compilation put together by Mr. Marcos is a database, and if it is, whether or not it may be protected under a copyright. According to the court, in order for a database to be granted copyright protection it must be an intellectual creation having sufficient originality that must be deduced from its structure, i.e., from the criteria of selection and/or disposition of the content of the database. Given that the plaintiff’s work lacks any method or means for detecting an individual piece of data out of the considerable amount of data the work contains, where they are compiled according to certain criteria understood to be common in works of this type, and where the different pages must be scrutinized, the court dismisses the idea that the guide written by the plaintiff constitutes a database and therefore rules that it cannot be granted copyright protection. The Provincial Court agrees to dismiss the appeal filed by Mr. Marcos against the initial judgment under appeal.