Software reseller suing Microsoft for £270 million over 'anticompetitive' actions

Microsoft logo at Ignite
Microsoft logo at Ignite (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Software reseller ValueLicensing is suing Microsoft for £270 million.
  • The lawsuit centers around Microsoft encouraging businesses to give up licenses for discounts rather than selling them to companies like ValueLicensing.
  • ValueLicensing claims that Microsoft's actions resulted in a gross loss of £270 million.

Microsoft is getting sued by UK-based software reseller ValueLicensing. The lawsuit alleges that Microsoft is using "anticompetitive" practices to get companies to give up licenses in exchange for discounts rather than selling the licenses to companies like ValueLicensing (via Forbes).

ValueLicensing is a certified provider of pre-owned Microsoft software licenses. ValueLicensing's website even has a Microsoft Partner Network icon on its about page. The company sells pre-owned Microsoft volume licenses and has operated since 2009.

The business model of ValueLicensing includes purchasing licenses from businesses that don't need them anymore and then reselling them. ValueLicensing claims that it has been hurt by "anticompetitive" practices by Microsoft. Specifically, it claims that it has been financially hurt by Microsoft pushing companies to give up licenses in exchange for discounts rather than selling them to ValueLicensing or similar companies.

"Microsoft's illegal behaviour has impacted almost every organisation that provides desktop software for its workforce in the UK and the EEA," said Jonathan Horley, managing director at ValueLicensing to the Financial Times.

Horley also claims that his company isn't the only one hurt by Microsoft:

ValueLicensing is not the only victim. In purchasing software, public and private-sector organisations 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.

ValueLicensing's lawsuit was filed with the High Court in London. In addition to seeking for NDAs to be removed from contracts and Microsoft stopping its activities, ValueLicensing asks the court to "award damages for the loss it has suffered as a result of Microsoft's conduct." According to ValueLicensing, these losses are valued at an estimated gross profit of £270 million.

The Financial Times reached out to Microsoft for comment but was told that Microsoft cannot comment on ongoing legal cases.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at (opens in new tab).

  • So company A decides not to sell to Company B, Company B throws it's toys out of the pram. What nonsense.
  • That's a strawman of the highest order. We obviously don't know all the details so I'm not saying that Microsoft is in the right or wrong but the situation is clearly not as simple as you have made it out to be. It's not just company A deciding not to sell to company B. It's Microsoft taking a financial hit in order to specifically encourage company A to not sell to company B because Microsoft doesn't like what company B does, even though it's legal. If Microsoft are specifically acting in order to put company B and others like it out of business then that is likely illegal.
  • Yeah or you know they offer a discount for the all license like a car dealership does for your old car if you get a new one. I don't see how that's unfair? It's business, even if means cutting out others like the one suing, competing companies are not supposed to be nice to each other. What might be arguable is the usual MS dominant position that is a bit too dominant... but that's nothing really new, they've come to get used to it by now....
  • This seems like a publicity stunt.
  • Not really. Microsoft don't want volume licenses to be resold but I'm fairly sure that the EU won't let them prevent it directly, so this could well be Microsoft trying to prevent it by putting those resellers out of business. That would indeed be anticompetitive behaviour. I don't know enough about the case to say for sure whether that's what's happening but I would suggest that you're too quick to dismiss it.
  • Sadly The UK isn't in The EU now so we're losing a load of rights. The current Conservative government (think Trump light) will likely happily let MS do this. The EU was our protector against right wing governments.
  • @bradavon not just rights, Universities are also going to lose alot of money too due to Brexit. Many people who voted for Brexit have no idea how much International Students subsidised fees. Some Universities charge over 20K per academic year for some courses and the collective average is about 14k per academic year. That's not even including living costs and accomodation costs... This shortfall will have to be made up somewhere so either expect fees to go up or taxes to go up or both. Especially with the current pandemic, there is going to be a massive financial black hole for many educational institution. The other alternative would be to lower the grade boundaries for entry to get more home fee paying students.