Substantial fine imposed on two entities for using unlicensed software

15 June 2017

The most striking aspect of this case has undoubtedly been the large fine imposed on both sued companies, which amounted to 453,480 euros. Moreover, the defendants accrued legal interests from the date that the lawsuit was filed, up until the sentencing date, based on the utilisation of just two copies of the unauthorised software in two of the defendants' computers. Despite the delivered judgment, it seems that after the sentence was passed, the involved parties signed a compromise agreement, reducing the amount of the penalty by 15%.

In regards to the ruling, it is important to highlight that the court estimated the penalty based on the criterion known as the "reasonable royalty", established in Article 140.2 b) of the Spanish Intellectual Property Act, which enables the aggrieved party to request the Judge for compensation for damages incurred in the case of an Intellectual Property rights infringement: "the compensation money that the aggrieved party would have received, if the infringer had requested a license to use the copyright in question".

Finally, we must briefly mention that the use of unlicensed software exposes Spanish companies to other non-economic risks. Depending on the concrete circumstances of each case, these risks may consist of cyberattacks, due to the IT system's exposure to viruses, Trojan horses and malware, or even the risk of imprisonment for the managers responsible, if the requirements established in the Spanish Criminal Code are met.