What is pre-owned software?


As a PC user you cannot work without the necessary software. The first thing you need to do to start up your PC is to have an operating system, in most cases this is Microsoft. In addition, they want to use the PC to create spreadsheets, presentations and everyday documents. Microsoft Office is often used for this purpose.


In short, in addition to the purchase price of a PC, the necessary costs for the right software is also added. 

The PC market has experienced enormous growth in recent years.  In the early days of the PC era, it was mainly the convenience and fun that made it possible for everyone to buy a PC, but nowadays it is impossible to imagine everyday life without a PC.  As a result, the PC user (consumer and business) is more or less forced to buy a 'new' PC every now and then.

Especially in the last 10 years that the economy has been slowing down, this has not been the case for everyone, and consumers and SMEs quickly started looking for a more economical solution. The PC market quickly responded to this and the first pre-owned PCs appeared on the market.  Excellent PCs, often used for business purposes, which were written off after 3-4 years of use and were ready for a second round after cleaning.

Meanwhile, many PC users have become accustomed to the idea of buying a pre-owned PC and we see that the 'second-hand market' for electronic devices in particular, is also growing rapidly. Smartphones, TVs, monitors, game consoles... almost everything is 'pre-owned' for sale now.

So it wasn't long before the first questions arose about the supply of 'second-hand' software. After all, the disposal of old PCs and laptops (i.e. the depreciation of PCs/laptops by companies) also resulted in many used and therefore already activated licenses on the market.


Advantages of pre-owned/recycled software:


- Generally a lot cheaper than new licenses


- Reducing the ecological footprint


- Combating the contemporary 'throw-away culture'


- Attractive margins for the reseller




Frequently asked questions about selling pre-owned software


- Is selling pre-owned/recycled software legal?  


- What if the purchased pre-owned code doesn't work?


- Do I get any kind of support?


- MSDN licenses?


Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) licenses are rights granted to developers who work with Microsoft products for the purpose of testing software. These licenses are in some cases provided free of charge and have no commercial value. The use of MSDN licenses is therefore strictly prohibited for companies and individuals and can lead to high fines! 


Our strict purchasing policy obliges our suppliers to issue only OEM, Retail and OLP licenses. Each license is also checked by us for legality, activation and availability. We guarantee that the license you buy from Eurokeys can be used for the purchased software.


Is selling pre-owned/recycled software legal?

The reselling of software (in particular Microsoft products) is completely legal in Europe and also approved by the European Court on April 24, 2012.

Below and in the provided weblink, you can read about what and what the court ruled in this court case. In short, it boils down to the fact that end users in Europe purchase the software package including the right of ownership, in which case only the right of use of the software package is purchased against end users in America.


In Europe, the software package is therefore entirely in the possession of the buying party, so that the ownership of the purchased software in America remains with Microsoft. 

Case law


European decision24 April 2012




Second-hand software licenses are completely legal, ruling European Court of Justice

The European Union Court of Justice has recently taken a milestone decision in favor of the commercialization of second hand software licenses of any kind. According to this, once a software seller or distributor sells a copy of any software tool, it automatically loses its exclusive rights to distribution, making it completely legal for companies and individuals to re-sell their own copies, legitimating this niche market for companies such as the German based UsedSoft, the company that took the case to the European Court.

In addition, it is clearly stated in the Court decision that no difference could be applied between physical media and download products. “It makes no difference whether the copy of the computer program was made available by means of a download from the right holder’s website or by means of a material medium such as a CD-ROM or DVD,” the court ruled. “Even if the right holder formally separates the customer’s right to use the copy of the program supplied from the operation of transferring the copy of the program to the customer on a material medium, the operation of downloading from that medium a copy of the computer program and that of concluding a license agreement remain inseparable from the point of view of the acquirer.”

The transfer of property of the licenses also implies the transfer of the legal obligations stablished for both parts, including maintenance and upgrades, also meaning that multiple user licenses for instance cannot be split and sold separately, since the original conditions would still apply in case of a re-sell.


However, this decision only affects the European markets, since previous Court decisions in the United States followed a completely different direction. In the precedent-setting case Vernor vs. Autodesk, it was established that US buyers purchase the ability to use a license, but they do not own the software, making redistribution not legally possible. This does not prevent American users to purchase licenses outside the USA, although the legality of such possibility is still unclear.

Nevertheless, this European Court decision has a huge importance for companies, since it eliminates the distinction between the purchase of a license and the purchase of a product. The implications of this measure for international trade and intellectual property legislation on the long term still would need to be further discussed, but on the short term the cost-saving potential for European organizations is undoubtedly very important. We will see in the future the real impact that the opening of this market has for European Union based companies.