Your Arduino Packaging Could Sway a Court Case

Our friends over at Adafruit just made an interesting suggestion regarding the Arduino vs. Arduino saga. They noticed that the packaging for the Arduino UNO includes a pamphlet that states:

Manufactured under license
from Arduino by
SMART PROJECTS S.r.l.

Wow. That’s pretty interesting. Smart Projects is the former name of Arduino SRL. If you missed it, go back and read some of our previous coverage. Specifically, Arduino SRL is claiming to be the real trademark holder and has gone as far as forking the Arduino IDE and upping the version number in what appears to be an attempt to direct users toward their newly founded Arduino.org website/ecosystem/quagmire. If they feel they own the trademark why would they include this statement in their packaging?

Finding this in the a unit from a September 2014 is interesting. But Adafruit’s post is a call to action. We share their curiosity of discovering how far back official Arduino hardware has included such license notices. So, head on down to your work bench… start peeling back years worth of discarded hacks, clipped leads, fried servos, and other detritus. Find the packaging and take a picture. Bonus points if you have an invoice that associates a date with it. Either way, post the pictures on your social media hub of choice with #TeamArduinoCC. You can also embed it in the comments using HTML IMG tags if you wish.

Standard “I am not a lawyer” disclaimer applies here. We know you aren’t either so let’s all share what we think this means to pending lawsuits in the comments. Does this matter and why?

115 thoughts on “Your Arduino Packaging Could Sway a Court Case

    1. on second look it actually does have that message “Manufactured under licensefrom Arduino by SMART PROJECTS S.r.l.” it just doesnt look anything like whats in the picture shown here.

      Also the box says copyright 2011 Arduino LLC. It really wouldnt suprise me if this sat on the shelf for 2 years before I bought it.

        1. In the mid 1990’s, when I was employed there, I discovered inventory from circa 1970’s. Stored on hidden shelving right there in the front. Good indicator how much attention that store received.

          I bought it all for less than $20. The real prize was a scanner that was still able to pick up cellphone broadcasts at the time.

          1. I bought out most of the parts inventory in my local store before they closed. In amongst the parts I found an MOV that was so old that the package had MY OWN handwriting on it, from doing inventory in 1990 or 1991 when I was an employee of that store.

    1. The “manufactured under license” statement is already mentioned in the court documents filed by Arduino LLC, if anyone cares to read them, so this discovery by Adafruit is not new.

      Legally, it’s not a slam dunk, it only demonstrates one aspect of the case, The next is to establish who owns “Arduino”, inter alia.

      But the funny thing is that Adafruit banned me for allegedly promoting “internet rage”, now they are doing exactly the same thing! :)

      And it seems while officially “not supporting either side”, they are supporting Arduino LLC with words, but supporting Arduino SRL with dollars.

  1. We bought a bunch of arduinos (Due, 3 or 4 Uno r3s, a Mega) back a few years ago at the office. Was for a quick hack proof of concept to our funding directors. I think we kept the boxes. I will check when I get back in 2 weeks. I realize that 2 weeks is pretty long out but we have a pretty good selection of boxes. Think we bought all of them through Amazon.

    1. Agree on this. The official Arduino is way to expensive compared to the clones I can get. It’s not about “supporting the community” or stuff. It’s opensource for this exact reason: So everyone can copy it, and we all can give no fucks, and just buy a crapload of them. Especially the Arduino Pro Mini.. What are they? $2.5 each or something? Pretty awesome.

      1. Trouble my trouble with the clones is they just die. Two so far. One just stopped working and the other pins just start giving wrong readings. Right now I’ve replaced them with a genuine arduino which is holding out so far. Anyone else found the same?

        1. Use the socketed arduino nano clones. They have standard pitch and are breadboard-able. Just build a board with a usb connector for power, and the pins to take the socket.

          It’s now easy to program, and easy to change. You could even put it in a commercial project and provide end-user changing and hacking… because it’s an Arduino-clone.

        2. I’ve had the diodes die on nano clones from china/ebay/amazon. its not a good idea, but at midnight, if I need to get it working again I’ll just short out the smd diode (bottom of nano 3.0 board) and it will power up and work again.

          so far, that’s usually the thing that dies, at least on the nanos.

          new nanos have ch340 chips instead of ftdis and so at least we won’t have ftdi ‘bugs’ to deal with anymore.

          1. Alternatively, if you’re going for production, just order some real AVRs and design your own board with the Arduino bootloader. It won’t be as cheap as some clones, but it should be as reliable as the real thing.

      2. Arduino is open source for many reasons. The fact that you can get the hardware cheaper than their name-brand prices might even be one of the ultimate goals Massimo and crew had in mind.

        But I’m pretty sure you being ungrateful and unappreciative of all their effort to develop the software and platform was NOT one of their motivations to share so much with you, Chinese cloners, and the whole community.

        1. They didn’t develop the software or the platform. The Arduino IDE is based on Wiring software (wiring.org.co) with the WinAVR compiler at it’s heart. The hardware already existed as ATMega development boards from Atmel.

    2. Do you also download the software from China, that makes those Chinese clones work?

      Do those Chinese vendors host reference material you use when you need look up how a function works? Or an active forum where you can ask questions? Or a wiki? Do they operate a server that provide a vetted list of libraries in the new Sketch > Include Library > Manage Libraries window feature?

      Even if you never give a single penny to Arduino LLC, if working software lets you actually use those cheap clones, perhaps you should care what happens to Arduino.cc?

        1. Many important factors all come together to make a platform valuable. The confidence and trust so many people invest in a platform is based on so much more than the simple sum of the bits & bytes in its files and parts & pieces in its hardware. This is true of all platforms, from operating systems, networking & communication, transportation, etc. Who administers the system, how its continues to develop, clarity of policies, dependable access to information and updates, and all sorts of other factors are critically important to ANY platform’s continued widespread use and value.

          Looking at this as if this were merely a data backup & preservation issue, as in “what happens if the website disappears” or “plenty of copies are mirrored” is incredibly short sighted.

      1. The Arduino IDE is based off of Wiring software wiring.org.co with the WinAVR compiler at it’s heart. Sure Arduino provided a few libraries, but many libraries are written by users. The bulk of the work that went into the Arduino IDE was done by people who never made a cent off the Arduino. Also there are several IDE’s you can use instead of the Arduino software, and you can get the pro mini for as little as $2.18 with free shipping on ebay.

        1. Yeah, and the entire reason Arduino was so successful in the first place was because they undercut Wiring’s pricing. Somehow I find it hard to care much about other people doing the same to them.

          1. If someone is going on rip off arduino, it should actually be a company not based out of China. Like the Russians. Chinese clones destroy companies with their fakes. Look at what happened to FTDI. They had some overpriced chips that were popular with everyone and their uncles, a some Chinese clones got “slipped” in the marketing chain. RIGHT. FTDI wanted to secure their investment by attacking the cloned chips. They ended up making one of the biggest mistakes a company could make. Their reputation was tarnished because suddenly everyone with these cheap arduino clones couldn’t use their boards. HELLO? Do you not see a problem here? You purchased a fake arduino, and FTDI support broke as well. Yet they wined and FTDI had to reverse what they did. A Chinese clone, without doing a thing, destroyed the reputation of the authentic copy of a product. Despite FTDI having the prices they do, it’s complete bologna that a fake chip can be produced to ride off the same drivers that were written to work for the authentic chips, and when the company breaks support for the knockoffs, they get blamed for everyone else being tightwads with nonfunctional $2.50 arduino clones that would have died in a month anyways.

      2. >>Do those Chinese vendors host reference material you use when you need look up how a function works?
        No, the rest of the internet does. Most of what I play with I don’t find on Arduino’s website.

        >>Or an active forum where you can ask questions?
        No, the rest of the internet does. There’s more forums out there than just Arduinos. Even AVR Freaks has an Arduino forum.

        >>Or a wiki?
        No, the rest of the internet does. There’s a lot of information out there that’s not in the wiki.

        >>Do they operate a server that provide a vetted list of libraries in the new Sketch > Include Library > Manage Libraries window feature?
        Given how many times I’ve actually found this feature useful vs searching for a library online I couldn’t care less.

        >>Even if you never give a single penny to Arduino LLC, if working software lets you actually use those cheap clones, perhaps you should care what happens to Arduino.cc?
        Maybe, kinda. But the reality is that Arduino was little more than an idea which came together quickly and built momentum. There’s very little effort put in, and the nature of open source is that this is little more than a garage project. Heck they didn’t even fix the headers they fouled up on their very first board.

        Actually I don’t care what happens to them. The nature of the idea is that once the idea is out it’s free for adoption. I thank them for coming up with it but ultimately the are not the arbiter of their project, thanks to their openness. Call it charity but if they disappeared tomorrow I think we’ll still be seeing the name Arduino for a very long time to come.

        1. “… they didn’t even fix the headers they fouled up on their very first board.” I am sooo with you here. That’s basically the reason why I abandoned my (official) Arduino Uno, and using the chinese Pro Mini clones for pretty much everything. Arduino company (not sure which one:) ) got some money off my first purchase, which is my way of saying “thanks for the idea” and now chinese companies are collecting my pennies for “making it so cheap I can use it for pretty much anything” idea.

    3. Thats a pretty shit attitude.
      Even though it’s expensive, they brought the idea to life.
      I own 5 official boards, and a couple of ‘disposable’ priced Nanos since I needed six which is prohibitively expensive. But I use their ecosystem to make it work. Arduino and it’s community introduced me to a world of electronics, PIC unfortunately, had me tearing my hair out and the bug never bit. And from a moral standpoint thos whole issue is worth caring about. If HTC or Samsung suddenly claims ownership over Android… It would be the same. Its a rude, selfish thing for the SRL bunch to do. You would go apeshit if you posted on Hackaday.io your new idea and had the boards manufactured at oshpark and the next thing you know they Kickstart the thing and claim it’s their idea from the start.

      So not giving a fuck is extremely childish.

        1. There is a difference between making money and claiming the idea was yours in the first place. If you really think closed-source is the solution, what are you doing on Hack-a-day?

    4. Even if though I do but “real” arduinos (and yeah, at that price I’ve burned a few blank chips myself too), I think if we’re to continue to get any arduino clones, nevermind new, better board which keep with the times, the I think it’s important to support them enough to keep doing stuff. It’s the classic adblock problem. It might be annoying, but the route to the easy ones is dependent on their survival, which is dependent on the route to the expensive ones. (who would bother making arduino clones very long if arduino itself imploded? They’d probably switch to the raspi, and imagine the failure rate on something like that….not to mention that’s just “wrong”)

  2. I would think all the courts need is one example of a licensing admission, and it’s all over. If it’s stated by the builder once, saying it 10000 more times won’t make it any more true or false.

    1. I think the goal is to establish the earliest known example. Depending on who and how often the TM is renewed it could be used to prove which company conclusively had the trademark. If it weren’t for the international nature of the organization I’m sure the whole TM debacle would be easier to sift through.

      1. A timeline of examples over the years probably wouldn’t hurt. anyone got a hashtag with a date in it that can be incremented based on what it sais on your packaging for easy searchability?

    2. For instance, 1 or 2 examples is not conclusive enough to prove the claim of ownership since any party involved could have easily forged the evidence, or somehow manipulated it, to make the case go one way or the other.
      Having a significant number of people corroborating the same evidence, would allow the court to reset assured that the evidence is true and has not been manipulated.

  3. I would love to read the case filings for this law suit to assess which party is going to win, but I am too lazy to reactivate my Pacer account. Anyone have access and want to share?

  4. Thank you Arduino (whoever you may truly be), for introducing an entire generation of tinkerers to a world where microcontrollers are easier tools than they seem. I personally would have given up on microcontrollers after a particularly bad experience with PICs, but someone close turned me onto Arduino and I leapfrogged from that to ARMs, FPGAs, and many others.

    But now, seeing Arduino tear itself apart trying to defend/fight the ideals for which it was founded… “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

      1. Or, it’s a platform for people who don’t care to be microcontroller experts but do occasionally want to get simple things done with a microcontroller. I think the Arduino concept has a place to stay in the toolset, much like the crappy, restaurant wok I still use when I own a nice lightweight one that’s theoretically “better.”

      2. … like, Atmel?
        I don’t want to get involved in a discussion about red vs. blue here, but obviously if you’re used to Arduino, the next stepping stone would be to learn to use it without Arduino IDE (i.e. the Atmel tools). My opinion is that once you’ve learned how to actually program the chips directly, THEN it makes some more sense to move on to others using what you’ve learned.
        To be honest, I think switching from Arduino IDE to PIC is setting yourself up to be disappointed with the PICs. As with every platform, they have their pros and cons, and in my experience, Atmel’s GPIO is more flexible than Microchip’s. At a minimum, learning how to use the GPIO low-level on the familiar platform before moving on to another might help one to understand what they’re trading for what when moving to another series of devices.

  5. I just bought a few on clearance from RS (70% off, which made it reasonably priced) about a month ago. The box has refers to Arduino SRL and Arduino.org with Arduino.org stickers covering Arduino.cc. The inner package also has stickers covering the Arduino.cc name. The board itself has Arduino.cc on the silkscreen still.

    1. December 2012, with the language. Have invoice and some of them still sealed in packaging from CanaKit (I typically use Teensys – this was for a one-off project that never happened and I never got around to using them).

  6. I still have the packaging for my mega2560 and that has an identical insert.
    The stuff about paid a couple of bucks, got mine from China and who cares about Arduino is utterly puerile. Does everything have to be free before these folks participate. Shows a total lack of understanding and lack of self respect.

    1. I know well what you are talking about. We are setting up a local makerspace, and it boggles my mind that there are people who are actually, rabidly indignant – to the point of actively trying to block its success – because we are expecting people to pay monthly memberships to cover rent/utilities/insurance/wages/maintenance/new equipment/etc. The sense of entitlement has reached epidemic proportions in modern society. (We aren’t letting them stop us building our community, by the way; they can sit and whine bitterly together in their dark, cramped garages all they want, while we are merrily making on our $120,000 worth of equipment.)

  7. My Arduino Uno Rev3 starter kit package says,

    http://www.arduino.cc
    (c) 2011-2012 Arduino LLC. All rights Reserved.
    The Arduino name and logo are trademarks of Arduino, Registered in the US and in the rest of the world.
    Other product and company names mentioned herein are trademarks of their respective companies.
    Image for illustration purposes only. Actual product may differ.

    The project book says,

    The text of the Arduino Projects Book is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License 2012 by Arduino LLC. This means that you can copy, reuse, adapt and build upon the text of this book non-commercially while attributing the original work (but not in any way that suggests that we endorse you or your use of the work) and only if the results are transmitted under the same Creative Commons license.
    Full license terms: creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

    (c) 2012-2013 Arduino LLC, The Arduino name and logo are trademarks of Arduino, registered in the US and in the rest of the world. Other product and company names mentioned herein are trademarks of their respective companies.
    ……
    …..
    Designed, printed and bound in Torino, Italy
    September 2012

    Second reprint, May 2013

    To me this clearly states that the name and logo are TRADEMARKED. Which is not the same as COPYRIGHT. The CC lisence is a copyright lisence.

  8. I’m pretty sure my Arduino Diecimila didn’t have one of these, or much in the way of packaging in general, and I bought it from Massimo Banzi’s tinker.it website in September 2008. It basically just came in an anti-static bag sealed with a sticker. Unfortunately I don’t have the sticker anymore.

    1. I’ve got the sticker right here, and it says: “WARNING: Before removing this seal, please read the terms of use at http:// http://www.arduino.cc/terms. Removing this seal means that you’ve read and accepted those terms. Otherwise, please return the sealed package to your vendor. Look for your board at http://www.arduino.cc/boards for any errata, updates, and precautions on using the board safely.

      Thank you for supporting Arduino”
      No mention of licensing on sticker or bag.

      The bag is a standard green antistatic one with “Labestat” and “09/08″ printed on it in yellow.

          1. Yeah, that looks familiar. I’ve still got the green antistatic bag, just not the label that it was sealed with – had forgotten that it was a fucking EULA sticker, though come to think of it that may have been part of the reason I’ve stuck with Chinese clones since then.

  9. I have never purchased an official arduino. My mate gave me a breadboard kit as my first outing and I have since purchased 3 more chips programmed with the r3 bootloader and an mini pro or something small with lots of pins and arduino written on it. I just care what happens to the software really as that is the bit that ties it all together and makes it easy for me, a non coder by trade, to tinker with it.

    1. They can only develop that software if the company survives (or at least, it NOT surviving would put a REAL hamper on things). It can only survive it receives money in royalties and manufacturing fees as the owner of Arduino, something SRL it trying to deprive it of.

  10. Like everyone else here IINAL, but I read this very differently. The statement of “manufactured under licence from Arduino” only establishes where the design came from. It does not have a “TM” or similar notation on it so there is no establishment of trademark.

    1. “A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark[1] is a recognizable sign, design or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others”

      SMART PROJECTS S.r.l. says they have manufactured the boards under license from Arduino. That is admitting that Arduino (LLC) has the trademark. Trademarks do not have to be registered, but they can be, in which case there would be (R) next to arduino. Just because Smart projects left TM off of the text does not mean there is not a trademark.

  11. Going to the WayBack Machine for a snapshot from January 31, 2010. It says manufacturers pay a licensing fee and they name SmartProjects as a manufacturer.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20100131214431/http://arduino.cc/en/Main/FAQ?

    “Who makes Arduino boards?

    Most of the official Arduino boards are manufactured by SmartProjects in Italy. The Arduino Pro, Pro Mini, and LilyPad are manufactured by SparkFun Electronics (a US company). The Arduino Nano is manufactured by Gravitech (also a US company).

    Which are the official Arduino boards?

    The official Arduino boards are the ones listed on the hardware page: the Duemilanove, Nano, Mega, Bluetooth (BT), LilyPad, Mini, Pro, Pro Mini, and a few older models, along with the Ethernet, XBee, motor, and prototyping shields. These are boards whose manufacturers work with the Arduino team to ensure a good user experience, compatibility with the Arduino software, and a quality product. In return for their status as official boards, the manufacturers pay a licensing fee to the Arduino team to support the further development of the project.

    In general, we try to restrict use of the name “Arduino” to the official boards. If you find a product under a different name but described as “Arduino compatible”, it’s probably not an official board and doesn’t fund continued work on the project.”

  12. I think it really sucks that one company is trying to co-opt another, and they’re intentionally muddying the waters over this, especially with taking Arduino 1.6 and releasing Arduino 1.7 under their own business, while scrubbing the credits of all names.

    But they had the same “IDE” for way too long without improvements. It really isn’t an IDE, and it’s unfortunate that some large projects use Arduino. I also wish they’d push the ARM-based boards down more tiers of the chain rather than just leave it in the high end projects. It was really weird with the Yun’s main processor was inferior to the networking chip on the same board.

    1. To be fair, development of the IDE, like everything else is driven by the Arduino “community”, if there is little development or improvement, then the community isn’t doing its job.

  13. More impressed with Adafruit siding with Arduino.cc than with Sparkfun for their ambiguous “let the customers decide” approach. To be fair, both are still selling Arduino Boards manufactured by Arduino.org, but at least Adafruit is stating that it is part of the Arduino.cc community. Curious what their announcement will be.

    1. The most recent one is that we’re manufacturing the Arduino Gemma in partnership with arduino.cc.

      There’s a lot going on behind the scenes. We don’t know all of it, and what we do know includes information that isn’t ours to share. The same goes for the Sparkfun crew, so wait for the situation to play out before judging their behavior.

      It’s easy to have a volume/knowledge ratio that approaches infinity. It’s hard to stay quiet and try to understand a situation with this many moving (and occasionaly inconvenient) pieces. We’re doing it the hard way.

      Our official position is that we respect the process of law and the judgement of the courts. While those honorable bodies are doing their jobs, we’re gonna make their lives easier by keeping our mouths shut at every reasonable opportunity.

      1. For someone officially “not commenting”, you are making lots of comments!

        The law doesn’t require you to sell boards made by Arduino SRL. The ethical issue is quite clear, so why are you supporting Arduino SRL by selling their boards?

        The “customer wants it” excuse is lame, customers want products made from rhino horn, and all sorts of stuff. All Arduino SRL needs to win is to keep making money, and they are relying on the profit motive of distributors like Adafruit, Sparkfun etc to keep selling boards.

        Arduino SRL would die tomorrow if distributors who cared stop selling their boards.

        BTW, I find your “we know best” attitude quite patronising. Did it ever cross your mind, “we could be making a huge mistake?”.

  14. The insert in my Uno package had the same “Manufactured under license” statement shown in the top photo. On the same piece of paper there’s a link to Arduino CC’s website.
    “INFORMATION & TUTORIALS
    http://WWW.ARDUINO.CC
    The original was in all caps.
    It’s the only (official) Arduino I’ve ever purchased. SparkFun tells me I purchased the Uno on May 25, 2012.
    I can scan the insert and box if it would be useful to anyone but the insert is pretty long and I’m not anxious to take the time to duplicate an image which is likely already available.
    I’m sure I could be persuaded to scan the images if they’d be useful.

    1. When I navigated to SparkFun’s Uno product page, I received a message at the top of the screen saying “You last purchased this item on May 25, 2012.” If you’re logged into your SparkFun account you should see something similar. This would give you the purchase date.
      BTW, neither of your photo links worked from my computer. Each link took me to a blank page.

      1. Thanks for the tip. Unfortunately, these were ordered for me by a teacher for a school project, so the record isn’t on my account.
        Also, here are the imgur pages (as apposed to the direct links):


        Is that any better?

  15. Looked at my ~2011 Duemilanove and found nothing about “Manufactured under license from” or “SMART PROJECTS”. I found “designed by tinker.it” on the back and “www.arduino.cc” on the front. I forget if this was bought from the Arduino store or from Sparkfun…but it was not bought from ebay; I’m sure of that much.

  16. I’m in the UK and have a genuine Arduino UNO I bought via the Arduino LLC (arduino.cc) website store in November 2014 and it has the “Manufactured under license from Arduino by SMART PROJECTS S.r.l.” text.

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