Million dollar idea using arduino, can they be sued?

when using the arduino on an invention is it possible to be sued? lets say the invention is net worth over million dollars or maybe even 1 billion dollars. Is it possible to be sued for using an Arduino to make the invention work

Possibly, if you plan on being closed source. The Arduino API is licensed under GPL/LGPL, and these impose strange restrictions on embedded software.

There is a requirement to allow a user to rebuild the GPL software (and essentially upgrade the firmware). Using an AVR this may mean the source code for the rest of the program be available, and someone could sue if they can't access it. You may have to custom write the parts you need.

However this is very unlikely, but if your project is worth a billion dollars, you can count on someone taking advantage of these edge cases to either make some money, or just plain steal your idea (Apple springs to mind).

Using the actual hardware is fine as far as I know.

Pyro

so let me try to be more clear, you bring up really good points. Your a really good help

so lets say I have a Mechanical product that will be used in combination with the Arduino, I plan on writing some code and combining other codes that I find for the Arduino. The Arduino will be used as a means to use sensors and lights.

what portion of that is prone to get a lawsuit?

the inventor has not hired a lawyer yet, they are just doing the beginning research and testing waters before they move to the next stage.

yes the idea could be close to 1 billion dollar if marketed correctly as there is nothing like it out there.

IM having trouble with this ast the moment, im in the beginning stages of something, and the people that have invented something big are using the arduino to make the product work.

what portion of their work can be sued? or taken to court? this is a promising 1billion dollar product.

example Mechanical product in prototype form will have an arduino inside in order to use code to move certain parts and sensors.

juancal123: when using the arduino on an invention is it possible to be sued? lets say the invention is net worth over million dollars or maybe even 1 billion dollars. Is it possible to be sued for using an Arduino to make the invention work

Why would you be sued? At the end of the day your product would have an Atmegaxxxx chip in it, and I doubt someone could sue you for using it.

@juancal123, I see you cross-posted. Please do not do that again.

If you intend to re-use an existing hardware board then you may find you fall short of some GNU licensing rules. This also applies to re-useing any libraries that come with the Arduino IDE and any you may find on the internet under the GNU licensing rules.

However since you can write all you code in C++ and get it compiled for the MCU as long as you dont use any existing libraries with copyright you will be fine.

Try looking to the AVR community and not just the Arduino one. after all at the end of the day Arduino it just another implementation of an AVR chip wrapped up nicely to make it an easy entry point for embedded development.

When I develop for my clients a rarely end up using an actual "Arduino" development PCB but usually design a custom PCB using an AVR chip like the 328 or the 1284P depending on the requirments of the application.

If this idea is as big as you think it is going to be then you would not be using Arduino PCBs in production anyway, you would be better off getting a custom design to suit your requirments. This is Especially true if it is to have additional hardware drivers on it like motor/servo control and load switching or some signal processing for sensors and input isolation etc etc.

If you think it is a billion $ project I am sure that a contribution to the authors of any libraries would make them available to you anyway. But ask them FIRST.

Cheers Pete.

thank u. You have shed the light on many fronts. Its a work in progress, Im starting out slowly. I will see what happens. Ill take some of your advice. I will look into some of my available resources. I will take all of your advice into consideration

Juan Calderon

Beyond any s/w licensing issues. There are also potential patent issues. For example, if your s/w or your overall product/system which includes a s/w component combined with other h/w or mechanical components implements something that some else already invented and patented, (even if you separately and independently invented it) you are now infringing upon their patent and will have to either change your product/system or try license the patents.

There are so many patents out there it is very difficult to not accidentally step on some else’s patented invention. For sure if you have a billion dollar product someone will come out of the wood work claiming you have infringed on one of their patents.

They may ask for (demand) royalties on their patent, it could be a little or a lot, or worse, they may refuse to license it to you. If they refuse to license it, you are dead in the water and can't make your product unless you can change it enough to no longer use/depend on the patented inventions. The sticky part is often patents can be somewhat vague and broad so there can be dispute over exactly what was "invented" in the patent. For example you might not think that what you are doing infringes on their patent but they do. When that happens, that is when you get sued, particularly if you are making money on the product since there is money for them go after. Fighting patents can be costly and lengthy depending on the views and desired outcomes of the two sides. Worse, during the battle you might be forced to stop shipments depending on what the courts rule.

Back to the s/w licensing for a moment. If you use any GPL 3.0 licensed source code (there are many Arduino libraries that are licensed GPL 3.0) then you are required to release not only your s/w but the source to all the s/w. That is the cost for using GPL 3.0 s/w.

Other licenses can have other restrictions but GPL 3.0 is one of the strictest.

--- bill

The patent just needs to state how the thing operates and not how it's constructed. At best you would state that the patent item has an "electronic control"; you'd certainly never mention a specific control (an Arduino) because that would narrow the scope of your patent too much -- someone could make a similar device using (e.g.) a Leaflabs Maple and try to defend a patent lawsuit due to that.

@juancal123

I would suggest, that you finish the protyping in Arduino, if it suits. Then if the project turns into something you can sell lots of and don't want to publish - it should be easy to convert it to a proprietary/closed system using software available from Atmel. Atmel provides a lot of stuff (example code, libraries etc) you can use & I presume is used also by Arduino.

It should take a max of a few weeks for a competent coder, to remove any of the Arduino dependent code, on most systems, particularly, as Atmel provide a lot of code for reuse.

A bootloader may take an additional few days to implement, if required.

You should also read up on AVR fuse settings, as its so easy to read the firmware back from most CPUs at default fuse settings.

The beauty of the Arduino approach is that it removes many of these issues for beginners.

Atmel Studio is free and once you get your first hello world code working, you will see how easy it is.

whit the arduino core also you can remain on closed source, it is allowed. you must provide the object file for a future relinking, but the code for your object file can be closed source.

it is the same way for closed source library, you can buy a closed source library, you receive documentation that explain the public API of the library, but the library remain closed source

whit the arduino core also you can remain on closed source, it is allowed.

@Testato Interesting, I didn't realize that. Can you point towards the bit in the lic that allows that? I find it is almost impossible to figure out all of the implications of every clause in similar lics, open source or otherwise.

I presume if you include any (non-core) library, you may/will be subject to different conditions.

Ok I found a source...on the main Arduino FAQ (Please refer to the FAQ, in case it gets updated over time)

Can I build a commercial product based on Arduino? Yes, with the following conditions:

  • Physically embedding an Arduino board inside a commercial product does not require you to disclose or open-source any information about its design.
  • Deriving the design of a commercial product from the Eagle files for an Arduino board requires you to release the modified files under the same Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. You may manufacture and sell the resulting product.
  • 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.
  • The source code for the Arduino environment is covered by the GPL, which requires any modifications to be open-sourced under the same license. It does not prevent the sale of derivative software or its inclusion in commercial products.

In all cases, the exact requirements are determined by the applicable license. Additionally, see the previous question for information about the use of the name “Arduino”.

So presumably, libraries provided by 'Arduino' and the core are OK to use (commercial/closed source). It sounds like other libraries released under LGPL are OK to use also but [u]non-LGPL libraries may have additional conditions[/u].

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.

This bit remains unclear. Which object files? Arduino Core/Libraries or the custom application. In reality, object files are relatively trivial to reverse engineer.

I have just re-read the LGPL wiki plus some other guides on LGPL and remain unsure.

However, as it really only impacts on commercial closed source code/projects not worth dwelling on too much here.

Your custom application must be in .o file, object files, because if one of your customer want recompile the product against the new arduino core, he must can do it.

Instead if for your product you need make modification in an arduino core file, or in an arduino library file, you must disclose the source of the modification. Example you can not modifie the lcd library and release only the .o file of the new lcd library

Thanks for that.

Testato:
Your custom application must be in .o file, object files, because if one of your customer want recompile the product against the new arduino core, he must can do it.

Yes, that seems to be the case. So for any MCU based project/product, that is very close to providing the source code and if you want to block 3rd parties from easily ‘cloning’ your ($1M) device it doesn’t seem a good idea to use LGPL’ed software/firmware like Arduino.

However, I would imagine for 95%+ of real-world situations Arduino/LGPL would be a pretty good approach for commercial projects. (provided, of course, the LGPL terms are complied with etc)