Is Arduino Heading Towards The First Open Hardware Fork?

from the adventure-continues dept

Although Arduino has figured a few times here on Techdirt in the DailyDirt section, it’s not very well-known outside the world of open hardware, where it was one of the pioneers (its reference designs are distributed under a CC-BY-SA license, and all of its software under the GNU GPL or LGPL). One sad sign that Arduino has arrived is that there is currently a falling out between some of the founders (original in Italian), partly over the rising monetary stakes involved.

The Italian company set up by one founder, Gianluca Martino, has been the main supplier of Arduino products for years — the open hardware license allows others to make them, too, but not to claim that they are “official.” Originally called Smart Projects, it has now renamed itself Arduino Srl, and taken on a new CEO with the aim of growing sales and taking the company public in a few years’ time. That hasn’t gone down too well with perhaps the best-known of the founders, Massimo Banzi, who oversees the development of the whole Arduino project, and heads up the Swiss-based company Arduino Sa, a subsidiary of the main Arduino Llc, registered in Massachusetts.

Alongside the original Arduino site, Martino’s company has now created, with a similar color scheme, and the motto “the adventure continues.” Both Martino and Banzi say they are discussing partnerships with other manufacturers — Martino with Bosch and Panasonic, Banzi with Intel — with a view to selling more Arduino boards around the world (original in Italian). Inevitably, perhaps, the two factions are fighting each other in lawsuits.

However those suits are decided, it seems possible that there will be some kind of fork of Arduino, with the two rival camps claiming to be the true heirs of the original project. That’s common enough in the world of open source software, but this will probably be the first time it has happened in the open hardware field.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or, and +glynmoody on Google+

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