back to article UK suit over reselling surplus Microsoft licenses rolls on

Microsoft's attempts to have a 2021 lawsuit's claims regarding anti-competitive practices struck out were this week contested in UK courts. During the hearing on March 30-31, counsel for ValueLicensing requested Microsoft's applications be dismissed. While the software giant appeared to accept that there were issues around …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Licence, not license

    License is a verb. Licence is a noun. Unless you live in a country that can't correctly spell colour, neighbour, etc.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Licence, not license

      Are you referring to the American ex-colonies that actually stuck to the older correct spellings, by any chance?

      1. Smeagolberg

        Re: Licence, not license

        >Are you referring to the American ex-colonies that actually stuck

        >to the older correct spellings, by any chance?

        I suspect the reference was to the many inhabitants of the American ex-colonies who invent language on the fly because they haven't learned (or learnt) vocabulary, grammar and punctuation very well.

        The Wikipedia 'Nucular' entry has been entertaining for a while. It appeared during Dubbya's time, and had substantial content justifying it (alternative facts?), although it stopped short of discussing whether atoms have a nucleus or a nuculus.

        Perhaps the latter word is too close to incubus, which would probably upset many of the same people who are upset by the wicked witchcraft embedded in Harry Potter stories. (Halloween, on the other hand... money... good...)

        The Wikipedia article started to attract discussion about the global entertainment value of US language misuse. Then it disappeared for a while. Now it's back, though in a milder version than at the peak of nuculositiness. Its future is probably a known unknown.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Licence, not license

        If the older spellings were stuck to by the ex-colonies, why did Webster come along and change the spelling of a lot of them for his dictionary? Apart from them being simpler to spell that is...

        Please God, for once, don't let me have made a spelling mistake which, of course, I won't see until after editing time has ended.

    2. Old69

      Re: Licence, not license

      English had many spelling revisions over the centuries - often with misguided judgements. Eg "could" is apparently a corruption of "coud" by a cleric who thought it ought to be grouped with "would".

      There were major attempts in the UK to standardise spelling ca. 17th century. By that time English speakers had colonised other continents and retained some previous spellings - to which they then added their own revised ones.

    3. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Licence, not license

      Hi, we know licence/license. However, we have been told to use American spellings across the board.

      1. Dave White

        Re: Licence, not license

        Down-voting not because I disagree with your comment, but because I disagree with El Reg's management.

        If this not a British publication?

        1. Smeagolberg

          Re: Licence, not license

          Interesting mention of El Reg.

          I don't know whether it's just me, but of late I think I've noticed omission in technology news which, once, El Reg would have been certain to have had a timely article about. I've even found things on the BBC 'Technology' news first. (It was the dumbing-down of that BBC section that first led to a search and discovery of El Reg).

          E.g. Having recently seen an article entitled 'Facebook users angry after accounts locked for no reason' ( I came to this site for deeper analysis and found nothing. Maybe I missed it, but a search still doesn't show anything.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Licence, not license


            You are not the only one to think same. I never read anything here about these articles.



            Of course it it had been about Apple or Microsoft…

            1. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

              Re: Re: Licence, not license

              Not "enterprise" enough, probably.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Tachisme

        Re: Licence, not license

        >"we have been told to use American spellings across the board."

        This seems fair enough: for the site to survive, you must succeed in the US. That wouldn't be helped by alienating US readers.

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: Licence, not license

          I'm a Brit, but have been living in the States for about a decade. Honestly, these days I'm starting to lose track of which spelling is which, and I find myself mentally switching gears when I talk to friends back in the UK ("I just used the phrase 'my cellphone was dead'... oh, bother, I should have said, 'my mobile was flat'..."). That said, why on earth should The Register standardise on American spellings? That's insane! I wouldn't expect the BBC to do so, or the Telegraph, or any other UK-based publications. Has El Reg been bought up by Halliburton or Fox News without us knowing?? Is our beloved Vulture now a Bald Eagle? Or has the editorial team simply been locked into using Microsoft Word 265 with only the US English dictionary installed?

    4. Alex Stuart

      Re: Licence, not license

      I'm with the Americans on this.

      If licence and license are pronounced the same way, the spelling should be the same.

      Same with other changes like 'sanitize' that make the language more logical.

    5. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Licence, not license

      OED allows both. This battle is long-lost

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "which we believe will benefit our customers us in their adoption of cloud technologies."

    That's more like it.

    1. Peter-Waterman1

      When they say Cloud, they mean Azure, as you cant take subscription licences to any other cloud.

      Any company who is tempted to give up those perpetual licences for temporarily discounted subscriptions will realise that they give up the right to bring their licences to GCP/AWS/OVH, locking them into on-prem or Azure.

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Announcing the new Azure introductory "Danegeld" pricing tier...

  3. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

    Imagine if the boot was on the other foot

    American company sues a British company that has an office in somewhere in the USA. American so-called judges: absolute case to answer, without hearing any 'arguments'.

    We live in a footstool.

    1. UCAP Silver badge

      Re: Imagine if the boot was on the other foot

      Even better - American company sues a British non-profit organisation with no presence in America in an American court. US judge allows the case to proceed despite the British organisation pointing out that the court has no jurisdiction, and subsequently awards a damages to the US company (which, BTW, it never collects and eventually collapses).

      See Spamhaus vs e360

      1. DF118

        Re: Imagine if the boot was on the other foot

        That's not quite what happened. e360 appealed the minimal ($27k) damage award from the original trial, presumably through greed, then snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when the appeal court basically lost its patience with their carry on and revised damages down to $3.

        1. UCAP Silver badge

          Re: Imagine if the boot was on the other foot

          Agreed, however the appeal court also (unusually for a US court) made e360 liable for both party's costs. Its the latter that basically forced e260 into bankruptcy.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The mind boggles as to why they would want the case moved to their tax and law friendly country.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Ireland

      It could also come back to bite them

      From the article "Microsoft Ireland is the entity through which the company grants licenses in the UK and EEA."

      The UK could theoretically impose import taxes on those "goods" coming from the EU since they are a "third country" from our perspective. Just as the EU like to keep reminding the UK :-) I wonder how long it would take MS to suddenly allocate MSUK as the source of MS licenses to UK customers?

      (No, I wasn't in favour of Brexit, but it's something we all have to make the best of nowadays)

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Ireland

        That would depend on how they are dealt with in the current UK-EU tariff arrangements.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Ireland

          I'd not be surprised to find that sort of licencing transfer is not covered at all yet. It's only become a growth industry during the time we were in the EU and wasn't an issue at all. Now we out of the EU, it could be a significant trade issue. It's might be on the radar now thanks to the "IP transfer" shenangans of the likes of Starbucks, Amazon et al claiming their "sales" take place in other countries and "rental" payments for Trademarks and so on eats all their profits. MS and other software licencing payments "import taxes" may get rolled into any future legislation to close those loopholes.

          1. Ken G Silver badge

            Re: Ireland

            I'm with you - tax licensing and royalties in both directions.

  5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Sheesh People

    Haven't we learned yet that MS is the LAW when it comes to software licensing? What they say goes no matter where it is and even if they are 100% in the wrong.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Sheesh People

      I thought that was Oracle?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Sheesh People

        Pretty much a dead heat.

      2. Smeagolberg

        Re: Sheesh People

        In the interest of balance, where does Apple fit?

        Law? Enforcer? Abuser? Judge? Jury? Executioner? Extortionist? All of the above?

        Perhaps they're as bad as each other. I don't see any angelic halos amongst such companies.

  6. IGotOut Silver badge


    ... if you can't sue MS (UK) for anticompetative behavior, as they just simply sell licenses and nothing else, then they can't sue UK companies and persons.for running pirated software.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Well....

      There you go using logic again. There is no logic in law.

      Now go to the blackboard and write that down 20 times during recess.

  7. Wade Burchette

    My opinion

    It is my opinion that all software is tied to the user and never to the hardware.

    It is my opinion that all software is to be owned, never leased, with subscriptions only allowed for security products that require daily updates, i.e. antivirus software.

    It is my opinion that all software must have a fully transferable product key and may never be connected to any personal information at any time. The product key may be transferred or resold to anyone without the permission of the original company as long as the original owner is no longer using the product.

    It is my opinion that if a software vendor allows you to download their product at any time, then that vendor must allow you to re-download as many times as needed forever, even if support for the product has ended.

    1. Atomic Duetto

      Like music

      Somebody is streaming in my pocket (tinkle)

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: My opinion

      So... is it possible to legally obtain a licensed copy of e.g. windows 7 to run in a virtual machine?

      1. Citizen99

        Re: My opinion


    3. hoola Silver badge

      Re: My opinion

      And I agree with this but having had to sort out this mess for several friends who bought "Perpetual" Office licenses, only to discover that when they tried to install them on a replacement laptop, they could not be activated. Calls to Microsoft to attempt to resolve if basically went down the route of "the software is not genuine".

      Further follow up with they shysters that sold the license elicited that it could only be activated once on a single PC. I was doubtful at the start as when one of the licenses was originally purchased there had been issues activating as it was supposedly already in use. That did activate after going through the MS phone service. Nothing on there website had any information that it could only be activated once on one PC.

      So is Microsoft right to take this action?

      I think yes and no. Why should a company be able to resell something that has already been used and they probably did not pay for in the first place? If the license is linked to the original purchaser, then yes. The company reselling the used software is doing it with something they don't own.

      On the other hand, their stance on licensing is becoming increasingly challenging and more expensive and they are aggressively trying to stamp out perpetual licensing. Now that could be seen as anti-competitive and probably should be investigated. That said, subscription is the way software is going and at that point it is very definitely linked to a single user in perpetuity. Of course the perpetuity is as long as you continue to pay.

      There is no option to resell anything that is a subscription.

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: My opinion

        As an addendum to your comment. Lifehacker had news the other day of a pretty tempting offer - a permanent licence to Office 2021 (or whatever the current non-subscription version is) for only $50, compared to the usual pricing of $400 or so. Despite my well-documented aversion to Office, I admit I was tempted. However, the small print revealed that it was for one PC only. Now it's not that I ever intended to cheat and install it on every PC in my household, but I do change/upgrade my primary PC fairly frequently, and I could tell from the small print and Microsoft's general go-fuck-yourself attitude that as soon as I upgraded my PC, my "permanent" licence would be $50 thrown down the drain. At least with Windows in years passim it was possible, albeit painful, to argue and cajole the telephone activation helpdesk into allowing transfer of a licence to a new motherboard...

        So I passed. And your comment leaves me feeling vindicated.

  8. Kev99 Silver badge

    "...will benefit our customers in their adoption of cloud technologies." ®

    And it will greatly benefit our bottom line as we steal any & all information and data they create using our cloud connected products. Plus, we don't care that a cloud is just a bunch of holes connected by vapor.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cui Bono

    M$ Quote: "...we believe will benefit our customers..."

    A first then? Everything else M$ does is designed to benefit....guess.....M$!

  10. anthonyhegedus

    I really don't like Microsoft

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I don't really like Microsoft either, but I prefer them to Google as all they seem to want is my money and put them far ahead of Amazon and Oracle who don't create anything.

  11. Trollslayer

    Where are Microsoft to go after Windows 11?

    More adverts in the built in apps?

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Where are Microsoft to go after Windows 11?

      Ah yes - the version of Windows made after Microsoft affirmed that "Windows 10 is the last version of Windows that we will make.."

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    A British company sues a US company in an English court over the US company's trading practices in the UK. THE US company unilaterally decided the case should be heard in an Irish court.

    Is the US company not aware that trading in the UK is not governed by Irish or EU law? Does the US company think it's a good idea not only to question the jurisdiction of the English court, but to openly state that the English court should refer the case to a court in a foreign country?

    They must surely realise that all they are likely to do is rile the court. Furthermore they must surely realise that were they to succeed in moving the case to a court within the EU then they would very definitely succeed in pissing off the UK government. None of the above is likely to endeer them to the UK government the next time they are legislating in anything to do with software and licences. Oh and of course taxing foreign companies who use the EU as a base to trade in the UK, which I'm sure has nothing to do with avoiding taxes in the UK.

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