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Aktiengesellschaft (AG, joint stock company under Swiss law)
Industry Internet commerce
Founded 2003
Headquarters Zug, Switzerland
Key people
Peter Schneider (Senior Management)

UsedSoft is a used-software commerce company headquartered in Zug, Switzerland that instituted the business-to-business (B2B) market for used computer programs.[1]


UsedSoft was founded in 2003 by Peter Schneider and two partners, though the latter two left the company later. Business operations were launched in 2004. At that time, the company's headquarters were located in Munich. After initial skepticism — contrary to de facto legal circumstances, the market was long plagued by the belief that used software was not tradeable — the company has attained double-digit growth rates again and again.

This, however, led to growing and significant opposition from the software manufacturers in the US. In 2006, Microsoft went so far as to file a criminal complaint, which was dropped by Munich's General State Prosecutor on the grounds of proven innocence. In 2005, Oracle attempted to halt used software trade with a civil lawsuit. This endeavor also failed but ultimately lead to an EU-wide liberalization of used software trade (see below, "ECJ Ruling").

Business model[edit]

UsedSoft purchases and sells standard computer programs that have already been used by other users. Since it does not suffer from wear, contrary to other products, software retains the same quality as brand new products. Licenses on the used market are available for around 30 percent below the price on new software.

UsedSoft also purchases used software. That means companies can turn software they no longer require (due to system changes, reduction of workstations, etc.) into liquidity. Such purchases are subject to notarial monitoring.

UsedSoft mainly deals in all standard computer programs of Microsoft brands. There are plans to expand the used software model to include the standard software of other manufacturers as well, especially Adobe, SAP, and Oracle.

UsedSoft maintains business operations exclusively in Europe. Its customer base includes large companies, SMEs, and public agencies, including Edeka, Woolworth, Harry Broth, s.Oliver, Segafredo, the airports of Munich and Salzburg, law firms, an association in Germany's Bundesliga soccer league, savings and loans banks, as well as the City of Munich, Germany's Federal Social Court in Kassel, and the Thuringia Police.[2]

Legal foundation[edit]

The legal foundation for used software trade consists of the "principle of exhaustion" in copyright law. This principle lays out that a manufacturer's distribution right to a product is "exhausted" the first time it brings the product into circulation. Thus, the buyer can resell the product secondhand. In Europe, EU Directive 2009/24/EC expressly permits trading used computer programs.[3]

ECJ ruling[edit]

Since 2005, Oracle and UsedSoft have carried out a legal dispute in Germany on the question of whether UsedSoft is permitted to trade used Oracle licenses. The dispute was taken all the way to Germany’s Federal Court of Justice, the country’s highest court, which ultimately passed the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for adjudication.

The ECJ's ruling was announced on 3 July 2012 (case C-128/11). The ECJ ruled, barring further recourse for appeal, that the principle of exhaustion applies to every first-time sale of software. Thus, used software trade has been declared fundamentally legal. According to the Court, this also applies to software that has been transmitted online. The ECJ even laid out that the second acquirer of computer programs that have been transmitted online may download the software from the manufacturer:

"Moreover, the exhaustion of the distribution right extends to the copy of the program sold as corrected and updated by the copyright holder,"

according to the ECJ.[4]

Company structure[edit]

UsedSoft International AG is headquartered in Zug, Switzerland.[5] The company's CEO and founder is Peter Schneider. In addition to Peter Schneider, the company's Administrative Council consists of Hans-Olaf Henkel, former head of IBM Europe and past president of the Association of German Industries (BDI); and Heinrich von Pierer, former Siemens board chairman.

The companies UsedSoft Deutschland GmbH (Munich), UsedSoft Österreich GmbH (Vienna), UsedSoft France SARL (Paris) and a distribution company in Hong Kong are wholly owned subsidiaries and distributors of UsedSoft International AG.

UsedSoft distributes used software throughout all of the EU, Switzerland and Asia. The company's main points of focus lie in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, India, China and Southeast Asia. Additionally, there are plans to expand distribution to other countries in Southern Europe, the British Isles, Scandinavia, and Central and Eastern Europe.

Sales work is performed by a sales organization consisting of some 40 persons active all over Germany and Europe. UsedSoft also launched an online shop in 2013.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "UsedSoft Homepage". UsedSoft. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  2. ^ References. Accessed on 14 March 2014.
  3. ^ Directive 2009/24/EC of the European Parliament and the Council. Official Journal of the European Union Accessed on 14 March 2014.
  4. ^ Directive 2009/24/EC of the European Parliament and the Council. Official Journal of the European Union Accessed on 14 March 2014.
  5. ^ UsedSoft Sales and Employee Figures. moneyhouse. Commercial Register and Business Information. Accessed on 14 March 2014.
  6. ^ Online Shop UsedSoft. Accessed on 14 March 2014.

External links[edit]