Hardly any business challenge has received as much attention as Big Data in recent months. Largely unknown a few years ago, Big Data is one of the most frequently discussed business topics across industries today. And yet, there is no consensus as to how to define Big Data. The term is often used synonymously with related concepts such as business intelligence and data mining. But the Big Data concept is different from the other two, with data volumes, numbers of transactions, and the number of data sources being so big and complex that special methods and technologies are required in order to draw insights from our data. Big Data analytics examines large amounts of data to uncover hidden correlations and other insights. With today’s technology, it is possible to analyze company data and derive answers from it almost instantly.

On Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at 6pm, CEIPI has the pleasure of welcoming to Auditorium 23 of the l’Escarpe Building at 11 rue du Maréchal Juin, Strasbourg, Prof. Daniel Gervais, Director of the Vanderbilt Intellectual Property Program, Faculty Co-Director, LL.M. Program, Vanderbilt University (USA), within the scope of the “(Re)thinking Intellectual Property, Fundamental Questions and New Perspectives” lecture series.

The public lecture will focus on the topic of “Big Data and Intellectual Property Law”. The debate will be moderated by Prof. Christophe Geiger, Director General of CEIPI.

Daniel Gervais is the Milton R. Underwood Chair in Law at Vanderbilt University, where he leads the research program on Intellectual Property and the LLM program. He is also full professor at the University of Amsterdam (2017-2019). Until August 2019, he continues to be Chairman of the International Association for the Advancement of Teaching and Research in Intellectual Property (ATRIP). Professor Gervais previously served as Acting Dean and Vice Dean for Research of the Common Law Section at the University of Ottawa. He is a member of the bars of Quebec and Ontario, a member of the Academy of Europe and of the American Law Institute (elected), where he serves as Associate Reporter of the Restatement of Copyright (First). He holds a Doctor of Law from the University of Nantes.


Professor Gervais will review the applicability of several IP rights (copyright, patent, sui generis database right, data exclusivity, and trade secret) to Big Data. Beyond the protection of software used to collect and process Big Data corpora, copyright’s traditional role is challenged by the relatively unstructured nature of the non-relational (noSQL) databases typical of Big Data corpora. This also impacts the application of the EU sui generis right in databases. Misappropriation (tort-based) or anti-parasitic behavior protection might apply, where available, to data generated by AI systems, which is of great but short-lived value. Copyright in material contained in Big Data corpora must also be considered. Exceptions for Text and Data Mining (TDM) are already in place in a number of legal systems and likely to evolve to allow the creation and use of corpora of literary and artistic works such as texts and images. In the patent field, AI systems using Big Data corpora of patents and scientific literature can be applied in order to expand patent applications. They can also be used to “guess” and disclose future incremental innovation. These developments pose serious doctrinal and normative challenges to the patent system and the incentives it creates in a number of areas, though data exclusivity regimes can fill certain gaps in patent protection for pharmaceutical and chemical products. Finally, trade secret law, in combination with contracts and technological protection measures, can protect data corpora and sets of correlations and insights generated by AI systems.