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Supreme Court passes judgment: Trade with used software is legal!

Can used software be resold in the EU? The European Court of Justice (ECJ, the highest court in the EU) made a landmark decision on this issue. According to this ruling, the trade with used software is basically legal. This was fully confirmed by the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) on July 17, 2013. For sellers, buyers and traders, this ruling offers clarity and legal certainty.

The content of the judgment

It is interesting that the judges partly even went beyond the demands of the ECJ Advocate General. In detail you made the following clear:

  • Used software may be traded
  • This also applies to online transferable software (downloads without data carriers)
  • If the first user has purchased updates, the updated version may be traded

The Frankfurt am Main Higher Regional Court later also ruled that volume licenses may be split.

The legal basis

The judgment is based on the principle of exhaustion. It states that the protection of a product to which the person placing it on the market is entitled is exhausted with the first sale. In this specific case, the producer of a software may therefore not prohibit the first purchaser from reselling the software.

Buy used software legally - how it works

The trade with used software is basically legal. Of course, buyers have to follow certain rules, this includes a complete documentation of the manufacturer-conform sales process. As a partner for legally compliant used software, we ensure the correct purchase and resale and provide you with all necessary documents.

By the way: Used software is also legal in Switzerland. There is, for example, a judgement of the Cantonal Court of Zug.