Legal Situation

With this judgment, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the European Union’s highest judicial court, gave definitive clarification by declaring commerce in used computer programs to be essentially acceptable.

The ECJ also found that the sale of secondhand software is legal when it is transferred over the internet.

The ECJ’s decision should be applied to volume licenses and their division as well. In a case between Adobe and usedSoft, the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt confirmed this.

The 13 justices of the Grand Chamber indicated emphatically in their decision that the concept of exhaustion applies to each original software transaction. Second customers may even obtain the program from the manufacturer again with licenses transferred online, according to the Court.

According to the European Court of Justice, the exhaustion of the right of distribution applies to the version of the copy of the program improved and updated by the owner of the copyright. As a result, the Court went beyond the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice’s concluding opinion of April 24, 2012.

The European Court of Justice announced its decision at the request of the German Federal Court of Justice. In the past, software companies have used the partially vague legal framework to discriminate against this industry and threaten consumers. The resale of secondhand computer programs was already permitted in theory.