UK software firm launches £270m antitrust court action against Microsoft

Court gavel
(Image credit: Pixabay)

UK-based preowned software license reseller ValueLicensing has filed a lawsuit in the London High Court against Microsoft for abusing its dominant position in the European markets to restrict resale of perpetual licenses for Windows and other company products.

In its claim, ValueLicensing calls into question certain contractual practices employed by Microsoft, which it contends have stifled the supply of pre-owned Microsoft licenses in the UK and the European Economic Area (EEA). 

The license reseller argues Microsoft’s contractual practices go against the spirit of a 2012 European Court ruling that allowed the resale of perpetual licenses bought within the EEA as long as they are for an unlimited period.

Monopolistic player

The controversial clause, which ValueLicensing claims has been in force since at least 2016, forces organizations to agree not to resale their perpetual licenses in order to get a bulk discount. 

It argues that with the clause Microsoft has abused its dominant position in the market to undermine the activities of its reseller rivals and has allowed the Redmond-based software giant to assume a monopolistic position.

“In purchasing software, public and private-sector organizations presently have little option but to move to subscriptions offered by Microsoft, because there are so few preowned perpetual licenses available now, as a result of Microsoft’s campaign to almost entirely drain the market,” said ValueLicensing’s founder and managing director, Jonathan Horley.

ValueLicensing is asking the High Court in London to award damages for the losses it has suffered as a result of Microsoft’s conduct, to the tune of £270 million ($371 million).

Furthermore, it wants the court to not just force Microsoft to cease imposing the anti-competitive clause, but also deem the restrictive clauses in ongoing agreements as illegal and unenforceable.

Mayank Sharma

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.