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Selling a product with Leonardo bootloader
Topic: Selling a product with Leonardo bootloader
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Selling a product with Leonardo bootloader
May 19, 2015, 11:05 pm
I know that questions similar to this have been asked multiple times and I have looked all through this forum and online to get a straight answer and I still have not found one that fits my case completely. This is about VID's, PID's and selling a USB device with Arduino bootloader in it. There are 2 separate devices that I have created.
First let me start from the beginning… (Sorry it's a long one)
I work for a small startup company in Texas. We mostly write software and don't touch hardware much. I personally have worked with creating hardware as a hobby for most of my life, using anything from PIC, Propeller to the Atmel processors. I also have recently started using the Arduino Boot loader in my projects.
When I first started working at this company they wanted me to create a serial device they needed to help their software work on certain PCs. A while back I had created breakout PCBs for the Atmega32u4. To make things simple, I just threw the Leonardo bootloader in it and just have it reading IR commands and sending serial commands to our software on the PCs. We don't want to sell this device. We just need to give it out with the PC's and software we make. Drivers and everything are already preloaded by us. I am also okay with giving out my eagle files and code for this.
My first my question is would this be okay? I am using my own PCB and code other than the serial print library. One problem is since this is the Leonardo bootloader, it shows up as Arduino Leonardo for the usb device when it is plugged in. We as a company really don't care about this because this isn't the main part of the product and are not wanting to advertise or claim we make these. Also, at most I only seeing us giving out about 40 of these.
Would it just be easier to just use FTDI for the serial to the PC and just use the provided PID that they give and just use the Leonardo for the IR receiver? Would this approach be okay? Or should I just take Leonardo bootloader out completely?
Second device: (This is the tricky one)
One day at work I came up with an idea that could help me with my job. Once again, I took one of my own PCB's I had printed for the Atmega32u4 and loaded the Leonardo boot loader into it and began using it for my project. Now a few months later, I have perfected the idea and decided to show my boss (just for fun). He was shocked when he saw it working. It turned out, what I was doing was something they have been wanting to do for a very long time. He now wants to patent this device and sell it along with the tool (software) our company creates. The reason to patent is this would be a major leg up against our large company competitors and we wouldn't want them taking it.
The USB device is my own printed PCB, the Atmega32u4, all the small amount of components required to make the processor run, and my input sensors (buttons, etc…). I have put the Leonardo boot loader on and also using the Keyboard class within Arduino.
My question is this, is it possible to patent this device using Arduino boot loader and the keyboard Class? I know for sure I will need a VID and PID. We are too small to consider spending the +$2,000 for a VID and also we don't need the 65,536 PIDs that come with it. I do already know that the Leonardo requires 2. One for the bootloader and the other for the 32u4. I have been doing research and have found places will give out or sell PIDs. I have also heard that Atmel may possibly give out IDs if you ask. I am not sure if this is true yet. Also it seems that most places that sell or give out PIDs require you to make your code and design files available to the public. I am not sure if I can do that if my company is wanting to patent it.
I guess now I am getting into patent law questions which I think are even more complicated.
If anyone could shed some light on this I would very very much appreciate it.
Like I said in the beginning, I know yall see these questions a lot. I spent a while looking around the forums but couldn't seem to find an answer that perfectly fit my case. I also read quite a bit about VID's. I just still had so many specific questions that I wanted to make sure I am not doing anything wrong. The first device is the most urgent and I need to have something together soon.
I have been a "Lurker" here in the forums for quite a while and never posted anything until now. Now that I have, I hope to post more in the future and share more of my personal projects with you all soon.
Thanks in advanced for your help!!!
my AVR is in the Garden.
Re: Selling a product with Leonardo bootloader
May 20, 2015, 07:40 am
One of the requirements to get a patent (in an ideal world anyway) is that the idea is not obvious. If the idea includes the bootloader in its claims then I fear using an open source bootloader does great damage to that requirement. For example, I've seen peas in a can, and peas and carrots in a can are nearly as obvious. I've seen an open source bootloader and it is obvious, and so running it over LVDS or RS485 is also obvious. Now if you use a closed source boot loader of your own design, E.g. the bootloader on Teensy 3.1 is not obvious (to me anyway) so it is a better part of the patent package (e.g. replace the peas and carrots with such things, and the can also).
For everything else... get a lawyer.