USB Implementers Forum Says No to Open Source


For the longest time. one of the major barriers to hobbyists and very small companies selling hardware with a USB port is the USB Implementers Forum. Each USB device sold requires a vendor ID (VID) and a product ID (PID) to be certified as USB compliant. Adafruit, Sparkfun, and the other big guys in the hobbyist market have all paid the USB Implementers Forum for a USB VID, but that doesn’t help the guy in his garage hoping to sell a few hundred homebrew USB devices.

Arachnid Labs had an interesting idea to solve this problem. Since other USB device vendors such as Microchip and FTDI give away USB PIDs for free, a not for profit foundation could buy a VID, give PIDs away to foundation members making open source hardware, and we would all live in a magical world of homebrew devices that are certified as USB compliant.

This idea did not sit well with VTM Group, the people serving as the management, PR, legal, and membership and licensing department of the USB Implementers Forum. In a slightly disproportionate response, the VTM Group told Arachnid Labs to,

Please immediately cease and desist raising funds to purchase a unique USB VID for the purpose of transferring, reselling or sublicensing PIDs and delete all references to the USB-IF, VIDs and PIDs for transfer, resale or sublicense from your website and other marketing materials.

Interestingly, Arachnid Labs’ and scores of other requests for an open source USB VID haven’t hit the desk of anyone at the USB Implementers Forum, the people who are actually in charge of designating USB VIDs and PIDs. There are a number of ideas to get around VTM Group that include squatting on USB VID 0xF055, but we’re at a loss why there couldn’t be a foundation that gives out open source USB PIDs. Microchip, FTDI, and Openmoko do the same, so perhaps it’s time to email some key people at HP, Intel, and Microsoft


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