Skip to content

Legality of Certified Pre-Owned Software


The purchase and use of pre-owned software are legal in the EU based on the European Court of Justice ruling from July 2012 (Case C-128/11-3 July 2012) and the European Software Directive 2009/24/EC.

Article 4(2) of the Directive states: “the first sale in the Community of a copy of a program by the right holder or with his consent shall exhaust the distribution right within the Community of that copy, with the exception of the right to control further rental of the program or a copy thereof”.

In July 2012, the European Court of Justice ruled that this “principle of exhaustion” also applies to intangible/digital software, including software within Volume Licence Agreements sold by vendors such as Microsoft. In short, owners can resell perpetual, fully paid software licences regardless of what states in the original agreements.


The pre-owned licences must meet the following requirements:

  1. The first acquirer purchased the licences with the consent of the copyright holder.
  2. The first licensee bought the licence in one of the European Union countries (“original Country of Use”).
  3. There are original ownership documents identifying the first purchaser and what was purchased.
  4. The first user obtained the software’s licence indefinitely.
  5. Both the original and new purchaser fully paid the licences, not leased.
  6. The software is uninstalled and deleted by the previous owner.
  7. The used software licence is not split or otherwise incomplete (i.e. bundle packages or office suites cannot split). Тhis does not apply to MAK (Multiple Activation Key) volume licences as separate activations of 1 licence can be sold to different end users.
  8. Licenses are not subject to any third party rights.

Registration with the manufacturer by the new purchaser is not necessary.

LicenceDeals follows all the legal requirements of licence transfers and provides customers with all due documentation.

Software audits:

If there is an obligation of a software audit in the original contract, it ends with the transfer of rights to another licence owner. The software manufacturer cannot perform an audit without your consent (except in case of software piracy suspicion and court order). However, if an audit occurs, it is enough to present the documents provided by us. If the auditors need to know more details about the previous owner, they can contact us for further information.


Purchase of pre-owned software without the proper documentation does not constitute a legal purchase. Be mindful of websites offering certified pre-owned software without providing the mandatory documentation.