Sale of computers with preinstalled software not ‘unfair’

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A legal challenge to the common practice of selling computers with preinstalled software has been dismissed by Europe’s highest court.

The case was bought by a consumer who purchased a Sony laptop in 2008 and demanded to be reimbursed for the cost of the pre-installed software, which Sony refused to do.

The court found that Sony’s practice was not ‘unfair commercial practice’, so long as “such an offer is not contrary to the requirements of professional diligence and does not distort the economic behaviour of consumers”.

In cases where a consumer was informed, prior to sale, “that the model of computer is not marketed without pre-installed software” and that the consumer is free to pursue an alternative brand or bundle with similar technical specifications, it will remain for national courts to decide whether the consumer retained their ability to make an informed transactional decision or whether there was significant interference.