EU Court Rules on the Resale of 'Used' Computer Programs in UsedSoft GmbH v. Oracle Intl. Corp.

August 7, 2012

The Court of Justice of the European Union (the “EU”) released its much-anticipated ruling in UsedSoft GmbH v. Oracle International Corp. Under EU law, the distribution right of a software copyrightholder is exhausted after the first authorized sale, so that a lawful acquirer is entitled to resell software. The Court held that this right applies regardless of whether the software was originally distributed on a physical medium or as a download from the copyrightholder’s website. Taking a different approach than U.S. courts, the Court also held that a copy of a computer program is deemed “sold” where the acquirer obtains the right to use its copy for an “unlimited period” of time in return for the payment of a “fee” enabling it to obtain a “remuneration corresponding to the economic value” of such copy, even if the acquirer enters into a license purporting to restrict transfers by the acquirer.