Once in a while, something known as “new distribution forms” of software catch the attention of people in the tech market in Germany. But standard license agreements and provisions of German copyright law do not always match perfectly, and these discrepancies give rise to gaps and misunderstandings that courts must ultimately settle.

Accordingly, a couple of landmark decisions have come down from the Bundesgerichtshof (“German Federal Court”) over the last few years. While the German Federal Court has refused to accept the once famous original equipment manufacturer (“OEM”) clause that set forth restriction of stand-alone sale of software without hardware in 1999 (BGH, July 6, 2000, File Number I ZR 244/97 (OEM)), it has decided, on the other hand, that network licenses must be accepted as a permissible use of software licenses (BGH Oct. 24, 2002, File Number I ZR 3/00 (CPU)). Even though these license forms have been subject to Federal Court evaluation, other concepts to circumvent software-licensing restrictions have come up, and have yet to be decided.

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