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What Constitutes Proof of License?

What constitutes a proof of license?This article has been contributed by Sandi Conrad of Conrad & Associates.

Sandi is the author of the “SAM Starter Kit” published by The ITAM Review.

When first setting up an asset management practice, determining which licenses can be proven as legal can be quite a challenge.  Many publishers now offer licenses on line, which eliminates a great deal of confusion when it comes to proving validity of software.  If the publisher shows the license on your eLicense site, you are guaranteed that the license is valid.  This is one of the reasons it is so important to cross reference your purchase history with your publisher’s purchase history.  If there is a discrepancy, it may mean that your vendor is not providing valid licenses or it may mean that your license is listed in the wrong account.

Not all publishers provide a foolproof license program.  Some do not reference specific agreement numbers and require the company name to be spelled exactly the same each time or require a single email address for all orders to ensure the licenses are listed together.  This means that your licenses may be on record somewhere, but may not be readily accessible.  I’ve even experienced two companies with similar names mixed up by the publisher, which required several phone calls to fix.  There may be many reasons the licenses do not show up on the eLicense site, but the publishers are general very amicable to fixing their records.

If licenses were purchased as OEM there may be stickers, or proof of license may be the invoice.  If retail packages are purchased, there is usually something identified – either a sticker on the box or an internal document – as “Proof of License” and occasionally the media is also considered part of the proof of license.  Ensure these are recorded in inventory and securely stored in case an audit is called.  OEM and retail licenses will not appear on any eLicense sites and will be questioned by an auditor, especially if large quantities are purchased this way.

Some of the big electronics or office supply stores will provide discount for purchasing retail boxes in bulk, but remember, the savings will be offset by the costs of storing multiple proof of license documents and multiple serial numbers.   If there is confusion over which document is considered proof of license, contact the software publisher to find out what is required or keep all documentation.

SAM Starter Kit SmallThis article has been contributed by Sandi Conrad of Conrad & Associates. Sandi is the author of the “SAM Starter Kit” published by The ITAM Review.

Sandi has been in the software business since 1991 and was one of the first Software Contract Administrators in Canada.

She has been providing consulting services since 1996, helping hundreds of clients to understand their obligations and rights under a myriad of contracts, and comparing licensing programs to find the most advantageous options for her clients.


About Martin Thompson

Martin is owner and founder of The ITAM Review, an online resource for worldwide ITAM professionals. The ITAM Review is best known for its weekly newsletter of all the latest industry updates, LISA training platform, Excellence Awards and conferences in UK, USA and Australia.

Martin is also the founder of ITAM Forum, a not-for-profit trade body for the ITAM industry created to raise the profile of the profession and bring an organisational certification to market. On a voluntary basis Martin is a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the ITAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770.

He is also the author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management. In addition, Martin developed the PITAM training course and certification.

Prior to founding the ITAM Review in 2008 Martin worked for Centennial Software (Ivanti), Silicon Graphics, CA Technologies and Computer 2000 (Tech Data).

When not working, Martin likes to Ski, Hike, Motorbike and spend time with his young family.

Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.


  1. Kylie Fowler says:

    I have had negative experiences with eLicensing sites, particularly in

    audit situations. I have had Microsoft Auditors tell me that their MVLSC site is only a record of purchases, not of entitlement, and that

    if there are discrepancies between their MVLSC and the MLS reports, then tough.

    For me, invoices are the crucial document, even

    though in and of themselves they don’t constitute entitlement. What they do constitute is legal evidence that a transaction took place

    and rights were transferred. Entitlement data (an eLicense website, box product etc) supported by an invoice is very powerful evidence

    that entitlement exists, particularly in an audit situation where the publisher is scrabbling for every bit of leverage they can find to

    increase that final settlement figure.

  2. Jacobo Senior says:

    So in conclusion, is the MVLSC site a repository for purchases records or of entitlements? It is important to

    have a clear answer on this.

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