In the race to innovate, developers must consider how data use could impact ownership of their technology. Data is the fuel for software development, and developers use historical data from existing products to train algorithms and build AI and machine learning models. Companies are well aware of privacy and regulatory restrictions on data use, but often do not consider the potential impact of data use restrictions on intellectual property ownership and use rights.

In the United States, contracts are the most important source of rights and restrictions for data use, laying out between companies what is acceptable data use and what isn’t. However, copyright law does provide limited protection for compilations of data, so companies should still analyze copyright infringement principles and defenses — as well as other potential claims — when dependence on third-party data is central to the technology development process