The Court of Cassation issued a rare ruling on the law Sui generis protect databases. This right, created by the European Directive 96/9 / EC of 11 March 1996 relating to the legal protection of databases, has been transposed into French law by articles L. 341-1 and following of the Intellectual Property Code. It allows database makers to obtain an intellectual property right on databases that required a substantial investment.
The dispute relates to the database of real estate ads on the Leboncoin site, a site for classified ads between individuals. This site allows people to post various listings for free, including real estate listings. It currently receives around 800,000 new ads per day. Leboncoin has been managed since 2011 by the LBC France company following a partial asset transfer agreement concluded with the SCM company, which created the service in 2006.
Another company, Entreparticuliers.com, which operates a website of the same name, offers an online publication of property listings from individuals. This second company receives, through a third-party service, systematic and daily monitoring of real estate advertisements published by individuals on the internet, including on the Leboncoin website. It then posts a large number of these ads on its Entreparticuliers.com site.
Noting that some Leboncoin users were complaining about the resumption of their advertising on the Entreparticuliers.com site, the company LBC sued Entreparticuliers.com on the basis of the law Sui generis protect databases. The Paris Court of Appeal, with judgment of 2 February 2021 (Paris, 2 February 2021, n ° 17/17688, D. 2021. 2152, obs. J. Larrieu, C. Le Stanc and P. Tréfigny ), de facto condemned Entreparticuliers.com, which appealed to the Supreme Court.
After rejecting a first procedural plea, the Court of Cassation had to respond to the reasons relating to the quality of LBC producer, the substantial nature of the investment, the protection of a sub-base and illegal extraction.
The quality of the manufacturer
The owner of the right, the producer of a database, is defined in Article L. 341-1 of the Intellectual Property Code as “the person who takes the initiative and the risk of the corresponding investments”. However, in this case, the management of the Leboncoin site had been transferred in 2011 from the company that initially created and managed the site, the SCM company, to the LBC company. The appellant company therefore considered that LBC, having not created the database for which it sought protection, could not boast of being a producer under the intellectual property code.
Furthermore, the Court of Appeal based its decision on article L. 342-5 of the Intellectual Property Code regarding the term of protection. This duration is …