I'm working on a few electronic curriculum and adding some Arduino sections. After building some of my own boards, it occurred to me that the official Arduino boards might not be patentable in the first place, which might help to explain why they decided to go open-source. I'm curious if there has been anything published or discussed on online about this.
My point is, if they use the ATMega, FTDI, etc., etc. Can you get a patent on just the board design? Is that common in the hardware world? I guess it would be a motherboard design, the same as Dell, IBM, etc. Could Arduino have chosen to get patents on the boards? I guess it would really depend on the patent offices accepting them.
What about the software? Since they are using a C/C++ compiler to write out machine language for the ATMega, could that compiler have been patented? Since they based the compiler on the AVR programmer, could they have chosen to get a patent on the Arduino C compiler?
Not that it matters, just curious about this and how this has been playing out in the new open-source world. Wondering if this open-source approach has been a good model for other companies to follow on. I'm also wondering if another company can come in and create their own board designs based on the ATMega chip, which would allow you to use Arduino to program it, could they then patent the design? Has that been done by anyone? It would seem that if these board designs are patentable, someone would have patent a few of their own as well.
Just trying to play this out in my head and think it through, as I don't want to explain all of this incorrectly in my curriculum. Hoping others might know the answers to some of this.