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Author Topic: "Arduino on breadboard" reproduced for Commercial Product...???  (Read 4420 times)
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I have searched the forum for help with my question but none of the answers are very clear so I would like to reach out to the community...

I have a product that I would like to sell commercially but I am not sure what needs to be done if i used an arduino to create it.  The main product is not at all an "electronics" product but I used the arduino to help me develop some ideas I had to add some small features to my main product. 

I have basically reproduced an arduino on a breadboard and added some other custom componets (sensors, relays, etc.) as the features of my main product.  I currrently burn the code on the Atmega and pop it into the breadboard that is set up like an arduino.

I have not  started selling my product but I'm afraid if it takes off i will need to outsource this part of my product.  I have no background with electronics or with soldering so I know i would not be able to produce this side of my product for commercial use.

So here are my questions...

1.   Can i legally have a pcb manufacturer produce my version of the "reproduced arduino" and my custom componets?  What will i have to disclose and how or where would i disclose it?

2. Could i sell my product with the reproduced arduino on a breadboard and if so what will i have to disclose and how or where would i disclose it?


3. Can I simply purchase many arduinos and used them directly in my product?  If so what will i have to disclose and how or where would i disclose it?
 
I know i may be a little vague but any help is greatly apprecieated.  If anyone has any suggestions on other options i should look at to take this side of my product commercially I would be open to hear any ideas.   I like doing thinks "by the book" and would rather do things right the first time instead of when it becomes a problem.  Thanks so much for the help...!!!



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1.   Can i legally have a pcb manufacturer produce my version of the "reproduced arduino" and my custom componets?  What will i have to disclose and how or where would i disclose it?

Why not? I mean what's on there ? A microcontroller + a few necessary components. Even if the schematic for an 'arduino' were not publicly available, the information to make this stuff work is in the manufacturers datatsheets and appnotes as well. Either way, it is meant to be used and 'reproduced'. You just can't call it 'Arduino', only 'arduino compatible' or something like that.

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2. Could i sell my product with the reproduced arduino on a breadboard and if so what will i have to disclose and how or where would i disclose it?

As far as the hardware goes: If people have the physical board, they can reverse engineer it anyway. You could grind away the part numbers ;-)
Regarding the software: See the licenses below.

http://www.nongnu.org/avr-libc/user-manual/
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLInProprietarySystem

"Q: I'd like to incorporate GPL-covered software in my proprietary system. Can I do this?
A: You cannot incorporate GPL-covered software in a proprietary system"

"Q: Does the GPL allow me to sell copies of the program for money?
A: Yes, the GPL allows everyone to do this."

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3. Can I simply purchase many arduinos and used them directly in my product?  If so what will i have to disclose and how or where would i disclose it?

I don't think that would be cost effective, but again why not? I think in general you'd have to provide links/references to arduino.cc, the avr-libc library and the compiler. And when interpreting the licenses I've quoted right, you'd also have to release the full source code. I'm actually not quite sure if that requires you to publish it on a website. Maybe it would be enough to provide a contact address and make it available upon request, but that could get annoying ;-)

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I know i may be a little vague but any help is greatly apprecieated.  If anyone has any suggestions on other options i should look at to take this side of my product commercially I would be open to hear any ideas.   I like doing thinks "by the book" and would rather do things right the first time instead of when it becomes a problem.  Thanks so much for the help...!!!

If you're serious about starting a real business (not just selling a few boards for fun like many folk do), you're right to think about these issues before you invest time and money.

Have a look at this as well: "10 rules for maker businesses". I found it quite interesting.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2011, 12:38:17 pm by madworm » Logged

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"Q: I'd like to incorporate GPL-covered software in my proprietary system. Can I do this?
A: You cannot incorporate GPL-covered software in a proprietary system"

It looks like AVR-Libc is licensed under "Modified BSD License" not GPL...
http://www.nongnu.org/avr-libc/LICENSE.txt

I believe the Arduino core and libraries are licensed under LPGL.
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I think in case of a microcontroller that runs code from flash, the difference between LGPL and GPL are effectively 0. The LGPL is more permissive in terms of dynamically linked libraries, but I would argue that a .hex file is statically linked and therefore the LGPL also requires the source code to be released. The license used by avr-libc only seems to require the inclusion of the copyright note as posted before.

But of course I'm not a lawyer.

When looking at adafruit and the likes, I have a gut feeling that going fully 'open everything' is not the worst choice. Of course you must make sure that your product is unique and fit to be released into the wild (*), the documentation should be comprehensive, there should be various known-to-be-good examples and there should be a place for customers to direct their inevitable cries for help to. Everybody should know that it is You who made this thing and not somebody else trying to sell it for 5 bucks less. One fine example for this is one thread on adafruit's forum named something like "You bought your kit on ebay?". It clearly states that they will under no circumstances bear the burden of giving support for rip-offs, while the 'other guy' happily takes the money.

(*) there shouldn't be any of these insane 'upload doesn't work' issues for example. One way to avoid that is to explicitly recommend using a very affordable ISP for transferring code to the device (hint hint). Of course a bootloader will be on there as well, but make it clear that it is potentially a source of frustration.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2011, 06:56:25 pm by madworm » Logged

• Upload doesn't work? Do a loop-back test.
• There's absolutely NO excuse for not having an ISP!
• Your AVR needs a brain surgery? Use the online FUSE calculator.
My projects: RGB LED matrix, RGB LED ring, various ATtiny gadgets...
• Microsoft is not the answer. It is the question, and the answer is NO!

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Thanks for the replies as it is helpful information butd not exactly what I think I am looking for. 

The clients will not have access to the circut board or with altering/changing anything on the unit.  I am basically installing the circut board in my final product to do things such as motion sensor lighting, temperature controlled fans, pressure sensors, etc...   The circut board will be enclosed in a project box which is also completely concealed within the larger product.  I understand it may be hard to understand without me releasing what the final product is but i think this is as clear as i can be.  The clients will simply plug in a wall wart and that's all they will have to do with it...

Does using the circut in this type of product still require me to release anything?  If so does anyone have a suggestion on how or what i should use to design a circut board for a commercial product? 

MADWORM - when you say i can have a pcb manufacturer produce the breadboard I made, but just can't call it Arduino or anything similar, do you mean that if I take this avenue that i will not have to disclose anything?  Thanks for the link to the article also.  It was very informative. 

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As far as the raw hardware goes, you don't have to disclose anything. If you make up your own circuit, even if heavily inspired by other things (which is called learning by doing) and transfer that into design files that manufacturers can handle (e.g. "gerber" files, or eagle .brd ...), it is 100% up to you what you do with it. Getting inspiration is a different thing than copying 1:1.

However, if you use the arduino software (and most importantly the underlying compiler, which is licensed under GPL) to compile code for the microcontroller that is a different thing. I don't know if anybody would actually start a legal dispute about that, but better read the licenses closely. It seems to me that using a GPL-ed compiler + libraries implies that you must release the source code (or at least provide it upon request). But again I'm no lawyer.
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• Microsoft is not the answer. It is the question, and the answer is NO!

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It seems to me that using a GPL-ed compiler + libraries implies that you must release the source code (or at least provide it upon request).

No, that's not correct:

Using the Arduino core and libraries for the firmware of a commercial product does not require you to release the source code for the firmware. The LGPL does, however, require you to make available object files that allow for the relinking of the firmware against updated versions of the Arduino core and libraries. Any modifications to the core and libraries must be released under the LGPL.


You mentioned that you "reproduced an Arduino on a breadboard". If your design is directly derived from the board schematics provided here on the Arduino site (a lot of copy and pasting from the Eagle .brd and .sch files) then technically you would be required to release your schematics. Granted, anyone trying to force you to release those schematics would probably just get laughed at by the community at large.
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That sounds a bit more friendly. People would have to resort to disassembling the .o files and only get assembler code that is hardly usable for something else. People who could in fact use it, are clever enough to write their own code smiley-twist

Others would still be able to re-link the .o files against an arduino core.a file and get a working .hex file out of that. So even if the AVR itself were code-locked and potted in epoxy, they could at least try to reproduce the hardware and take the 'black-box' .hex file.

Maybe that is a high enough obstacle to keep the average ebay dudes from selling cheap(er) clones.
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• Upload doesn't work? Do a loop-back test.
• There's absolutely NO excuse for not having an ISP!
• Your AVR needs a brain surgery? Use the online FUSE calculator.
My projects: RGB LED matrix, RGB LED ring, various ATtiny gadgets...
• Microsoft is not the answer. It is the question, and the answer is NO!

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I have searched the forum for help with my question but none of the answers are very clear so I would like to reach out to the community...
Have you looked at the FAQ on arduino.cc?

http://arduino.cc/en/Main/FAQ

These questions might be of interest:
- What do you mean by open-source hardware?
- Can I build a commercial product based on Arduino
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