ECJ: Topographic Maps, Geographical Information And The Interpretation Of “Independent Material”20/11/2015 by Marie Barani for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.The Court of Justice of the European Union gave a preliminary ruling on 29 October related to the definition of a “database,” more especially of the “independent material” constituting a database. The latter definition comes from Article 1(2) of Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 1 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases.The State of Bavaria makes topographic maps. An Austrian publisher, Verlag Esterbauer, scanned these maps to extract geographical information which is then incorporated into other maps made by the publisher. Bavaria considered the publisher to be making inappropriate and illegal use of its maps.Bavaria brought an action to have the publisher to discontinue its use of its topographic maps. It won at first instance but the second instance court dismissed the claims based on the legal protection of databases.The German Supreme Court raised doubt about whether these maps come within the definition of “database,” more specifically whether the geographical data scanned, extracted and used by the Austrian publisher can be qualified as “independent material” constituting a database within the meaning of Article 1 of Directive 96/9. It thus requested a preliminary ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union to have an interpretation on this point.The Court recalled that the existence of a database depends on the existence of a collection of independent material, which means that they can be separated from one another without their value being affected. The topographic maps here are basic products scanned by the publisher to extract geographical information in order to make other maps.The Court stated that a combination of information such as geographical information contained in the topographic maps may be held “independent material,” provided however that the extraction of that information from the topographic map concerned does not affect the value of their informative content.This autonomous informative value of the information must be assessed in the light of the value of the information for each third party interested in the collection of data, not only for typical users of this collection.The Court then said that information extracted from a collection, used for financial gain and in an autonomous manner, providing customers with relevant information, is “independent material.” Therefore, the geographical information extracted from the topographic maps and used by the Austrian publisher to produce other maps and granting customers relevant geographical information is protected under the Directive on the legal protection of databases.The ruling can be found here: http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=170741&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=1021084 Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)RelatedMarie Barani may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."ECJ: Topographic Maps, Geographical Information And The Interpretation Of “Independent Material”" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.