Experts advise against data ownership rights – VDMA and Noerr present new data usage guideline


The systematic use and legal protection of machine data are key future issues for Germany's mechanical and plant engineering companies. The “Data Usage Guideline”, which has now been presented by the Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau – VDMA) and the law firm Noerr, provides valuable guidance in this regard. The guideline contains practical solution proposals and is intended as a discussion basis for companies, the public sector and politicians to come up with fair solutions for the commercial use of data.

The data generated during the operation of machines forms the basis for completely new business models and for additional added value resulting from digital services. While digital change has long been a reality for Germany's mechanical and plant engineering industry, there are, however, no recognised standards for the legal protection of data usage. After all, who “owns” the data is not regulated by law.

This is where the new guideline comes in. It shows that there is no need for legally regulated data ownership with regard to the allocation and use of machine data, but that flexible and practicable solutions can be better developed by negotiation. To this end, the guideline contains concrete example regulations for standard contracts that facilitate an appropriate balance of interests between the parties involved. “Innovative businesses need freedom to develop – this includes the valuable asset of contractual freedom,” emphasises Hartmut Rauen, VDMA Deputy Executive Director.

The majority of companies in the mechanical and plant engineering sector reject data ownership rights and prefer contractual solutions. Torsten Kraul, partner at Noerr and co-author of the study emphasises: “With this guideline, we want to support companies in advancing their data usage strategy and implementing it in a legally compliant manner.” Besides, the VDMA's guidance is intended not least to provide an impetus for developing – non-binding – standards for contractual provisions on data sovereignty.


Leitfaden Datennutzung – Orientierungshilfe zur Vertragsgestaltung für den Mittelstand


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