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In this blog post, we will look at the protection of database rights in HK and the legal regulation of database access in HK. Codes, programs, source code, or related software are generally protected by copyright law. The database protects not only the structure, but also its content, provided that the creation of such a database required significant financial, material, organizational or other costs. Such costs are assumed when the database includes at least ten thousand independent information elements (materials).

What is a database?

The database is a set of independent materials (articles, calculations, regulations, and other similar materials) presented in an objective form, systematized in such a way that these materials can be found and processed by a computer. The manufacturer of the database is a person who organized the creation of the database and the work on the collection, processing, location of its constituent materials.

How to register a copyright in HK

HK does not have a copyright registration regime. It is assigned automatically if the work is original and recorded in tangible form. Paradoxically, software usually falls under the category of literary works under the Copyright Act in a special administrative region of China. Copyright holders receive exclusive rights to distribute the work to the public and copy the work.

How copyright is protected

Any infringement of the owner's copyright may result in civil liability. Depending on the actions of the offender, he may also face criminal liability. For example, if the infringer uses someone else's work for sale without permission).

How to register a patent

In addition to copyright, any new discovery with an inventive step can be patented in HK by registration. A patent is registered in Hong Kong if the object will be used for industrial purposes and does not belong to the excluded classes of inventions. As a rule, patents are divided into two types - standard and short-term.

Standard patents are registered on the basis of a patent registration in a special administrative region of China issued by one of the following patent offices:

  • State IP Office of China;
  • EU Patent Office;
  • UK Patent Office.

Next we will look at whether it is possible to patent software in HK. It will depend on:

  • whether the software is new;
  • whether it has an inventive step;
  • whether it solves a specific technical problem.

This can be difficult for corporations using a blockchain. Because they need to confirm that the invention related to software that relies on the blockchain meets the legal requirements.

In accordance with standard practice, employees or contractors agree in their employment contracts that all work created by them for the purposes of the employer's or customer's business will be considered work created by the employer or customer. It is also standard practice for the parties to agree that the employee or contractor will sign any documents or do whatever is necessary to transfer the IP to the works created by HK during the employment. However, the situation when developers leave the company taking with them all the results of work is not uncommon in practice.

Protection of personal data in the field of IP in Hong Kong

Businesses that are "data users" (defined as persons who control the collection, storage, processing or use of personal data) must comply with the principles that apply to the notification, collection and access to personal data, as well as the accuracy and duration of their storage. There are also special restrictions on the use of customer lists for product sales.

Customers can not object to processing (including digital profiling) but they may opt out of direct marketing activity.


We analyzed how the database can be protected in HK. It has been found that patenting software in HK is possible if it meets the criteria for a patent. The software usually falls under the category of literary works, so it can be protected under copyright law. If you still have questions, do not hesitate to sign up for a consultation on the regulation of access to databases in HK with our legal advisors.