Exhaustion of copyrights

The exhaustion of copyrights relates to one special case within the general legal problems of an exhaustion of copyrights as such. Besides the copyright, also commercial protective rights such as patent rights or brand rights can be affected by the exhaustion.

The exhaustion of copyrights as of other commercial rights can be seen in different spatial zones. Consequently a national, regional but also international exhaustion of copyrights can be considered.A special exhaustion principle has been legally codified for the type of software in §69 No. 3 German Copyright Act (UrhG). The Federal Supreme Court of Justice has stated in its verdict against Microsoft® in 2000 that in case of an exhaustion of rights, the owner of the copyrights cannot basically ignore the continuing bringing-in-transit of his products by opposing license regulations when these products, which originally were brought into transit with his consent, are sold by third parties.

At present, after the verdict of the Higher Regional Court Munich on 3. August 2006 and the still outstanding main-issue proceedings about used software, it has to be observed whether the exhaustion of copyrights in future only concerns used software which was delivered together with data carriers or whether also the licenses are concerned where only a download of software had to be carried out.