EU Courts Muling Over Rule on 2nd Hand Sofwtare Sales

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is mulling over the legality of second-hand software sales online, following a long-running dispute between Oracle and a German used-licence vendor.

The debate stems from a 2005 German case in which Oracle took court action against usedSoft after the reseller sold pre-used licences for software, allegedly in breach of Oracle's licence agreements.

Initially, German officials ruled in Oracle's favour, but usedSoft argued that it had written consent from the licence holder, who said he had paid full price for the software, and an appeals court referred the case to Europe.

According to usedSoft, the case could set a precedent for the entire industry, allowing companies and consumers to trade licences they no longer use if European legal eagles rule in its favour.

"Ultimately, the resale of downloaded software is based on European regulations, which must also be clarified for all of Europe," said usedSoft managing director Peter Schneider in a statement.

"This is exactly what we want to achieve, namely, final clarity. We regard this to be an important stepping stone victory on the way to truly free trade on the software market."

According to usedSoft, the ECJ will decide within two years whether software which was transmitted to the buyer online may also be traded as used.

The company also claimed the court should side in its favour because European and German officials had already ruled that trading in second-hand software in the off-line world was theoretically legal.

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