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Used Software


Used software is up to over 50% cheaper – and this is the major difference when compared with newly purchased software.

Unlike hardware, software cannot be used up. This means: even when buying second-hand, you get a product that is like-new. This is because you are not acquiring any physical goods, just user rights – and these can be resold according to a law passed in 2012.

The main case for using used software is the cost involved: you get the same quality as you would from the manufacturer, including the right to update and downgrade, but you pay a great deal less. This helps you to make significant savings in terms of your IT budget and to optimise the use of resources.

Savings of up to over 50% compared with “new” licences are commonplace when using used software.


The legal foundation is clear: Pre-owned software licences may be resold – this applies to licences saved on storage devices or acquired online via a download.

Buying and selling pre-owned software is permitted. This was the final judgement reached by the Federal Supreme Court in December 2014, ultimately confirming the decision made by the European Supreme Court in 2012: The principle of exhaustion in copyright law is also applicable to software. A manufacturer can no longer forbid the further distribution of its product after it has already been placed into circulation with its permission – with no ifs or buts, provided that certain conditions are fulfilled.

The bottom line: Once a licence has been acquired, the buyer becomes the legal owner of the software copy and is therefore also permitted to resell it – along with any original rights to updates and downgrades. This applies to all software, regardless of whether it was originally acquired on a stroage device or in the form of a download.

If software manufacturers include terms in their licences agreements or terms and conditions which say otherwise, these clauses are simply invalid. And what about copyright? Copyright remains unaffected and the developer remains the sole owner. This is crucial and has little to do with the sale of used software. This is not a question of duplication or “piracy” but rather a way of making use of products which are no longer required.

For this reason, buyers and sellers are held to certain requirements regarding documentation which provides details of the origin and further use of the software. This is because the basic requirement for legally selling and buying software is that the previous owner no longer makes use of the software, i.e. completely uninstalls it.


In terms of public investment, it is becoming increasingly difficult to deny: pre-owned software allows authorities and institutions to save valuable taxpayers’ money.

Public authorities all have one thing in common: they have to cut costs wherever they can. The budgets are tight and taxpayers’ money is a precious resource. So the potential of pre-owned software is even greater. Due to the sheer number of licences required, public offices and councils are happy to be able to make huge savings – sometimes in the 6-figure region. And they do so without any risks, compromising on quality, or having to forego the latest versions. Even the sales process is the same as when buying from the manufacturer.

Many experts working for the authorities are already enjoying the benefits of using pre-owned software. In 2016, the procurement supervisory committee of Muenster’s District Government reached the conclusion: using used software is no different to using as brand-new copy. Objectively speaking, there is also no need for any legal concerns either thanks to clear legislation on the matter. Both the European and German Federal Supreme Court have granted absolute legal approval for the sale of pre-owned licences. Any statements made to the contrary by manufacturers are neither justified nor enforceable. The assessment of the procurement supervisory committee concluded: pre-owned software should not be disregarded when granting software licences. And why should it be when this option is the perfect solution for making public services more economical?

Licensing portal

You can find the complete overview of your purchased licenses (as of July 2018) on our licensing portal for used software licenses. An intelligent filter function helps you to find the license you require quickly.


On our FAQ page, you can find detailed answers to frequently asked questions regarding used software in the commercial sector. Furthermore, you can find step-by-step instructions on how to activate and install licences and much more.

Access the FAQ page.


Tim Verhoeven

Tim Verhoeven

Sales Coordinator


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