"Germany's highest court on civil matters, the
Bundesgerichtshof, has ruled that Microsoft cannot prevent dealers
from unbundling its OEM software and selling it separately.
The ruling, which was made public Friday, overturns a lower court
decision in Microsoft's favor. The Redmond, Wash.-based company
had sued a Berlin hardware dealer for selling a copy of the
operating systems MS-DOS and MS Windows for Workgroups to an
end-user without an attached PC. The lower court had handed
down its decision on June 17, 1997."
"Court spokesman Wolfgang Kruger said the decision rejected
Microsoft's claim of intellectual property rights. "The right of
authorship can only be exercised once," he said. "Once the product
has entered the marketplace, with the author's agreement, he can no
longer engage rights of authorship" to interfere with secondary
sales. He noted that Microsoft had no binding contractual
relationship with the dealer in question. In German cases, the name
of the defendant is kept private."
"Asked what consequences the decision might have outside
Germany's borders, intellectual property rights lawyer Alistair
Kelman referred to the concept of "persuasive authority." "Legal
systems try to agree on principles between themselves," he said.
"Depending on how well argued the decision is, it could have
considerable impact globally."
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