The European Court of Justice (ECJ) [official website] ruled [text] Wednesday that the sale of a computer with pre-installed software does not constitute an unfair commercial practice as defined under an EU directive. The suit, brought against Sony [corporate website], alleged that the sale of a laptop with a pre-installed Windows Vista operating system distorted the economic behavior of consumers and went against standards for professional diligence. The suit also claimed that the omission of information regarding the individual prices of the included software programs left the consumer uninformed about material elements of his purchase. The court held that the sale of computers with pre-installed programs was not an unfair or misleading practice. Further, the court stated [press release, PDF] that the sale of such technology may actually align with consumer expectations for purchasing ready-to-use computers. The prices of the individual pre-installed programs was not found to be a material element of the transaction.
This suit was initiated in 2011, three years after Vincent Deroo-Blanquart acquired a Sony VAIO laptop. The computer came equipped with, among other programs, Windows Vista. Deroo-Blanquart refused to accept the “end-user license agreement” of the operating system. He then requested a refund for the price of the software from Sony. Sony rejected the request for a partial refund and instead offered to reimburse the consumer for the full price of the computer on the condition he return the laptop, which the consumer denied. The Court of Cassation [website] in France was hearing the case on its appeal when it requested assistance from the ECJ.