On this page you will learn:

- Proof of licence entitlement is key

- It is your responsibility

- Invoices are not everything

The problem
If your organisation cannot prove that it owns a licence then as far as the software publishers are concerned you do not own that licence.

Being able to prove ownership is important as your organisation has probably spent £500 + (often £1000+) on software for every machine/employee.

Maintaining proof of licence is also important otherwise it can be very time consuming pulling it all together when a software publisher knocks on the door asking for details of your licence position.

Of course the industry doesn't help by having many different rules as to what constitutes proof of licence.

And the SAM industry tends to recommend that invoices are the be all and end all of licence proof, which at best is inefficient and at worst won't count anyway.

Accept the legal reality

"We purchased the licence once upon a time so we must be ok…."

Knowing that you purchased something and being able to prove it are very different concepts.

The above argument holds no truck with any software publisher or authority.  If you cannot produce proper proof then you ain't got it, as simple as that.

It is your responsibility
We have witnessed every excuse in the book.  Unfortunately with the software industry so interested in revenue, even if you have purchased something at some point, unless YOU can prove it then it is unlikely that anyone else will.

If you doubt the need to keep proof then read the Terms and Conditions of your licence contracts and see where the responsibility lies.

What is proper licence proof?
This is an ongoing debate in the industry which unfortunately leads to all sorts of confusion.

Basically, the requirements around proof of licence can vary depending on the software product and the type of licence.

For example, with Microsoft boxed product (Full Packaged Product) you effectively require everything you receive in the box to prove ownership.

It isn't enough to have the invoice or the CD or the box on their own, they should be kept as a complete set.

And certainly with boxed product an invoice is never enough, because you could have given the box with its contents to another party, who will then also claim ownership.

This is a hot potato in the SAM world, many will advise you that invoices will suffice as proof. 

Ultimately, in most cases invoices would suffice as proof of licence in a court of law.  But you should not be looking at this in terms of going to court which would be massively time consuming and expensive.

Clearly if you are in court proceedings with a software authority then you will need all the evidence that you can possibly find.

But if you are in a proper licence management situation then there are much more efficient ways of managing your licence proof - Licence entitlement


Maintaining licence proof is an absolute must, otherwise you run the risk of throwing away your initial investment in the software.

Be cautious when advised to keep financial records.  There are much better ways of approaching the problem.

If simple processes are put in place, then maintaining licence records is easy.

For further information on the best methods to collate and maintain proper licence proof, see our Reconciliation section and Licence entitlement

We now look at the very real Risk of counterfeit software...