Forced bundling of software with computers in France: another episode before the Court of Cassation

On 22 January 2014, the French Court of Cassation issued a new ruling [fr] on the bundled sale of software with a computer. It reiterates its judgement of November 2010 [fr] on the need to evaluate the issue clearly and objectively, in order to make sure that consumer rights are respected.

This ruling is the continuation of a series with several episodes: in June 2006, a consumer bought a computer with pre-installed software and, as he was unable to obtain a refund, he took the matter to the local court. After the case was dismissed, he referred it to the Court of Cassation, which overturned the lower court's ruling in its decision of 15 November 2010, considering that the trial judge “[had] not given any legal basis to its ruling.” The case was therefore brought back to the local court, which again rejected the request, on the grounds that the consumer was an IT specialist. The case was again taken to the Court of Cassation, which just set the lower court's judgement aside again: the issue of whether bundled sale is illegal or not has nothing to do with the occupation of the plaintiff.

This decision is important, as it reiterates that the misleading quality of a commercial practice doesn't depend on the person who is disputing the sale, but rather on its misleading aspect to the average consumer, who is viewed as a theoretical person.

Therefore the case must now go back to the local court.

For more information on this subject, you may visit AFUL's website [fr].