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2015/04/15

We Have The Facts And We're Voting Arduino.cc

You've seen my posts on Arduino before. It's a microcontroller, released with an Open Source license, that finally allowed me to transition from programming bits to programming atoms. OK, I need to gear up and get a servomotor or something, but the point remains.

For years, the place to go for Arduino downloads and documentation was arduino.cc. Things are now changing...

Arduino LLC is the company founded by [Massimo Banzi], [David Cuartielles], [David Mellis], [Tom Igoe] and [Gianluca Martino] in 2009 and is the owner of the Arduino trademark and gave us the designs, software, and community support that’s gotten the Arduino where it is. The boards were manufactured by a spinoff company, Smart Projects Srl, founded by the same [Gianluca Martino]. So far, so good.
Things got ugly in November when [Martino] and new CEO [Federico Musto] renamed Smart Projects to Arduino Srl and registered arduino.org (which is arguably a better domain name than the old arduino.cc). Whether or not this is a trademark infringement is waiting to be heard in the Massachusetts District Court.
According to this Italian Wired article, the cause of the split is that [Banzi] and the other three wanted to internationalize the brand and license production to other firms freely, while [Martino] and [Musto] at the company formerly known as Smart Projects want to list on the stock market and keep all production strictly in the Italian factory.
(quoted from Hackaday)

I'll repeat a line. Whether or not this is a trademark infringement is waiting to be heard in the Massachusetts District Court. It is a matter of law, not up to me. As the boards are Open Source, you are well within your rights to make your own, as we at Lafayettech Labs have considered. (We decided that the availability of inexpensive small boards at SparkFun and AdaFruit make our board redundant.) I have a few boards from non-arduino.cc origins, but I have and am glad to have some that are arduino.cc boards, supporting the project that's inspired me. (And I'm reasonably sure that those boards were actually manufactured by Smart Products Srl).

You are also within your rights to fork a project and make changes, which is how Arduino code got ported to TI boards with Energia, and which is what Arduino.org did.

Using the same name.

GitHub user probonopd reported an issue with the Arduino fork:
Rename this fork and use less confusing versioning
This fork of the Arduino IDE should be renamed something else to avoid confusion, and a version number should be chosen that does not suggest that this fork is "ahead of" the original Arduino IDE when in fact it is not. Naming open source projects should follow community best practices.
As for "arduino-org", one can read on https://github.com/arduino-org that "This organization has no public members. You must be a member to see who's a part of this organization". This is quite telling. The real Arduino team is at https://github.com/orgs/arduino/people as everyone can clearly see.
There is a difference between trying to fork a project and trying to hijack a project, and I think this is clearly what Arduino.org is trying to do. I urge everyone interested in Open Source to urge them to rename and re-version their fork, by making this issue known among their community and by firmly but politely agreeing with probonopd and his, like the over-300 users who already have.

Rename the fork!