Author Topic: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info  (Read 18270 times)

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Offline Stonent

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smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« on: May 15, 2013, 02:01:08 am »
I linked to the hackaday article where they explain better. Basically the project claimed they manufactured real Arduinos but now are making their own project. By "manufacturing" they meant hired two former employees, but you won't see that on their kickstarter page.

http://hackaday.com/2012/11/27/kickstarter-incurs-the-wrath-of-arduino-creator/
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Offline Rasz

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2013, 02:12:44 am »
So in essence they were telling the truth. What exactly is your problem?
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Offline Stonent

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2013, 09:43:14 am »
Massimo Banzi contacted them and they sounded like they were going to update the deceptive stuff but they never did.

But former employees can be anything. You could hire the head janitor who sometimes moved the boxes of Arduinos away from the trash can and you could say he was involved in the production of the product.
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Offline Rasz

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2013, 10:36:44 am »
sooooo in essence they were telling the truth. What exactly is your problem?
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Offline westfw

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2013, 11:06:12 am »
No, "in essence" they were lying.  By some stretching of technical definitions, they can almost claim to not quite be lying.  But that's pretty far from being truthful.

(I'm also a bit surprised that Smart Projects, the Italian company that DOES manufacture Arduinos, isn't more pissed off.  The project name seems clearly designed to capitalize on the reputations of both SP and Arduino, and it's doesn't look like they have much right to do so.)

That said, it's a pretty mild criticism, IMO, for a project that does a significant re-spin of the Arduino idea.
Of more concern is that they're running 7 months late in delivering the goods.
 

Offline Rasz

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2013, 11:57:16 am »
They didnt say they designed Arduino, they didnt say they owned company making them, they said they had people working for them that previously made arduinos. I really dont see anything misleading there. Are you one of those people that thinks its stealing because they are using precious GPLed arduino code?

From the updates it seems they started/are starting to ship.
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Offline Corporate666

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2013, 12:27:48 pm »
It looks like this all happened more than 6 months ago.

What's happened now to make this into an issue?

I don't know much about Italian law, other than that Ferrari SpA is very dogged about enforcing the Ferrari Trademark throughout Europe, so I presume the protections for trademarks are similar in EU law to US law... in which case the trademark holder could (and IMO should) have told them to cease and desist since it was clearly a confusing issue - and intended to confuse.

But going back to the first sentence.. this all happened months ago.  What's the beef today?
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Offline westfw

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2013, 03:59:07 pm »
Quote
What's happened now to make this into an issue?
NOW, there is an EEVBLOG forum to complain about "dodgy" Crowd Funded Projects!

This is an interesting example in that it is yet another way to be "dodgy."
 

Offline MacAttak

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2013, 05:17:34 am »
As a backer of this project with $300 in it, I would be happy to answer any specific questions you might have about this one. I have had multiple discussions with the project creator, and am quite confident that there is no funny-business going on.

So if you have any questions about the technical aspects, the production issues that have arisen, the various drama that has unfolded in the process, or even the distribution and delivery of the final product, then please voice them and I will be happy to share what information I have. Nothing is secret, even though it's all buried under the constant bitching and bickering of project backers on the kickstarter forum.


I'll start though by shutting down the misinformation that has already been repeated in this thread (and in the source linked).

Dimitri did not claim to be an Arduino manufacturer. He claimed that he has on staff multiple assembly-line workers who previously worked for an Arduino manufacturer (and now 6 months later they might no longer be - I'm not sure). He also claimed that his company subcontracted partial supply/manufacturing in the Arduino production supply chain. When accusations of fabrication of those claims surfaced, he provided quite convincing documentation that proved that he wasn't lying. He provided photographs of invoices and a link to a news video that included a tour of an "Arduino factory" in which those two employees were seen. As a native Italian that also speaks English as a second language (and I think maybe Cantonese?), there is a bit of a language barrier when his statements aren't reviewed and edited by a native English speaker, and this has frequently been a source of misunderstanding. But poor grammar aside, there was nothing intentionally incorrect or misleading stated in the project description.

There was a second incident which occurred as a result of all the bullshit misinformation that was regurgitated on the hackaday discussion. Massimo Banzi (primary person behind Arduino) was tipped off that someone was attempting to produce and sell knock-off Arduino products. This actually does happen quite a bit - mostly cheap Chinese rip-offs who flagrantly print the official Arduino logo and everything on the parts. So Mr. Banzi assumed the worst without first checking on any facts whatsoever (he didn't even look at the project description from Kickstarter), and he got lawyers involved. Had he spent 15 minutes reading the information there, or just a quick email to Dimitri would have cleared up the misconceptions - but in a knee-jerk reaction he posted a bunch of spiteful rhetoric on the Arduino blog instead. The lawyers attempted to intimidate Dimitri into rebranding his entire product line... even though he wasn't in any way violating the published trademark terms of the Arduino brand name. And of course the obvious fact that this isn't an Arduino clone being sold in the first place - it is an open-standard hardware interconnect that targets Arduino as one of the interconnected platforms (one of many platforms). The lawyers quickly dropped their pressure because they simply don't have a leg to stand on, but Mr. Banzi never did recant his public accusations nor apologize for them.
 

Offline MacAttak

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2013, 05:21:33 am »
Also, here is the actual Kickstarter project link for anyone who wishes to make their own judgements: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fairduino/smartduino-open-system-by-former-arduinos-manufact
 

Offline Rasz

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2013, 12:49:52 pm »
There is also an interview with Dmitri on Dangerous Prototypes YT channel. Ian visited him in China/Hongkong/Taiwan/Srilanka/whatever_cant_remember.
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Offline HackedFridgeMagnet

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2013, 06:04:17 pm »
I see quite a few contentious points in the blurb.

I agree with the OPs thread heading
Quote
smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info

BTW who is "we" it states
Quote
Project by Dimitri Albino Romano, Italy

Why cant he just say the truth, ie Arduino capatibility, and explain whatever manufacturing link he had with the original Arduino.
 

Offline MacAttak

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2013, 02:51:26 am »
Yes the wording wasn't the best. To me it comes off as just sub-optimal English that is not uncommon with mainland Europeans or Asians. He tried to explain it more thoroughly later in the project description, but unfortunately the project title and headline make a strong (and confusing) first impression. I personally think this mistake (along with the silly capitalization gimmick) worked against the success of the project.

The intent is plainly stated here:

Quote
We started our company over 15 years ago in the north of Italy, in a very small town. Our company used to be a contractor for the manufacturing of Arduino™ and, a couple of years ago, some important staff left the factory that manufactured the Arduino™ to join us. With this transition we gain a lot of experience in this field.

What makes us different, from the people that usually propose this kind of projects on Kickstarter, is the fact that we are involved and specialized in making products, not just experimenting or prototyping. This allowed us to think and design something that goes a few steps beyond.

We run our business in Italy but we also have our own office and staff in Shenzhen, China since 2006, and a branch in Orlando, Florida. We are still a small company, only ten people running a typical family business, but with a very deep knowledge and huge experience.
 

Offline HackedFridgeMagnet

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2013, 09:11:44 am »
Yes I think they would have been better off being clearer about that.
Anyway they have funding, but it sounds like they didn't need it anyway.
Is the kickstarter project more just for sales? I'm not saying this is bad.

 

Offline MacAttak

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2013, 04:34:55 am »
Exposure/marketing and feedback on what enthusiasts like/dislike about the product. He also used the momentum of the kickstarter campaign to add support for a few other platforms... like Electric Imp and Tinyduino, and to test the waters for some other designs (like the "mix-up" signal shifter/routing shield).

And yes, as a way to increase sales (via the Kickstarter exposure, which can be a great marketing benefit).
 

Offline fuffkin

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2013, 05:33:04 pm »
I too, have invested in this Kickstarter campaign and I'm sure that it's genuine.

One thing that does unnerve me a little, is the rambling project updates that Dimitri sends out. The last one he sent out was obviously responding to a fresh set of criticism and he addressed each point one by one. That may be all well and good, but I for one, hadn't been privvy to any of this flaming and I don't really care. I know that production projects - particularly successful ones - can go overtime, I'm cool with that. I don't want a blow-by-blow account of all his arguments. All it does is raise my awareness of the controversy and it can't help but make you feel a little uneasy.

Just stick to project updates, rise above the criticism and concentrate on delivering.
 

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2013, 09:58:48 pm »
"smARtDUINO: Open System by former ARDUINO's manufacturer"  lol!   that's like  "smArt-µCurrent: Current meter by former Dave Jones µCurrent manufacturer"
 

Offline Rasz

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2013, 10:47:14 pm »
"smARtDUINO: Open System by former ARDUINO's manufacturer"  lol!   that's like  "smArt-µCurrent: Current meter by former Dave Jones µCurrent manufacturer"

And? I still dont see whats so wrong about that?
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Offline Corporate666

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2013, 12:47:06 am »
"smARtDUINO: Open System by former ARDUINO's manufacturer"  lol!   that's like  "smArt-µCurrent: Current meter by former Dave Jones µCurrent manufacturer"

And? I still dont see whats so wrong about that?

It implies a closer connection than actually exists, but more problematically, it would infringe on a trademarked name - µCurrent.  There is a whole area of law centered around intellectual property and trademarks, etc.  But it's well established that "leeching" off someone else's success by using their trademark is actionable.  It causes legitimate problems for the trademark holder... which is why if you released a product called Mini-Ferrari: from the manufacturer of Ferraris" that was a small kids car and you used to make light bulbs that Ferrari bought from you - you will absolutely get sued, and IMO would absolutely lose - and rightfully so.
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Offline MacAttak

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2013, 02:48:48 am »
You are making undue assumptions about the usage restrictions of the "Arduino" name. Please read the section here under "What should I call my boards" first: http://arduino.cc/en/Main/FAQ

And then after doing that, consider the product names that Arduino team has chosen not to strong-arm.
  • Netduino
  • TinyDuino
  • DFRDuino
  • RFDuino
  • Various other (smaller) one-off boards like "R-Duino" and "G-Duino".

By those facts alone, there is absolutely NO legal ground for Arduino to pursue this product or manufacturer (it didn't stop them from trying). But let's continue...

Next, review what this project really is. And by that I mean don't skip past the full detail. Actually read through it. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fairduino/smartduino-open-system-by-former-arduinos-manufact

Lastly, understand that the name "smartduino" is not even the final product name (and there isn't just a single product - this is a full range of related products). Review the online store that lists the products with the actual final names: http://smartmaker.com/en/

The company name is "Smart Maker", which was not final when the Kickstarter campaign was underway - "SmartDuino" was a temporary working name only. All of the products are labeled under "SmartMade Open System", and they are all prefixed with "Smart" as in "SmartBus", "SmartHost", "SmartMod", and "SmartCore" (which is the closest analogue to an Arduino in this product line). The word "Arduino" only appears in the names of two boards "SmartHost for Arduino" and "SmartHost for Arduino Mega", which simply allow you to take any SmartCore and wrap it up in an Arduino/ArduinoMega compatible form-factor. This naming is fully in compliance with even the most conservative interpretation of the Arduino trademark usage restrictions. It is explicitly allowed.

You will notice that the Smart Maker even sells officially branded Arduino products as well - there is no attempt to make any of their own products look like official Arduinos or otherwise trick customers into thinking that they are in any way affiliated with the Arduino products.
 

Offline Corporate666

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #20 on: June 04, 2013, 03:25:35 am »
You are making undue assumptions about the usage restrictions of the "Arduino" name. Please read the section here under "What should I call my boards" first: http://arduino.cc/en/Main/FAQ

And then after doing that, consider the product names that Arduino team has chosen not to strong-arm.
  • Netduino
  • TinyDuino
  • DFRDuino
  • RFDuino
  • Various other (smaller) one-off boards like "R-Duino" and "G-Duino".

By those facts alone, there is absolutely NO legal ground for Arduino to pursue this product or manufacturer (it didn't stop them from trying). But let's continue...

Next, review what this project really is. And by that I mean don't skip past the full detail. Actually read through it. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fairduino/smartduino-open-system-by-former-arduinos-manufact

Lastly, understand that the name "smartduino" is not even the final product name (and there isn't just a single product - this is a full range of related products). Review the online store that lists the products with the actual final names: http://smartmaker.com/en/

The company name is "Smart Maker", which was not final when the Kickstarter campaign was underway - "SmartDuino" was a temporary working name only. All of the products are labeled under "SmartMade Open System", and they are all prefixed with "Smart" as in "SmartBus", "SmartHost", "SmartMod", and "SmartCore" (which is the closest analogue to an Arduino in this product line). The word "Arduino" only appears in the names of two boards "SmartHost for Arduino" and "SmartHost for Arduino Mega", which simply allow you to take any SmartCore and wrap it up in an Arduino/ArduinoMega compatible form-factor. This naming is fully in compliance with even the most conservative interpretation of the Arduino trademark usage restrictions. It is explicitly allowed.

You will notice that the Smart Maker even sells officially branded Arduino products as well - there is no attempt to make any of their own products look like official Arduinos or otherwise trick customers into thinking that they are in any way affiliated with the Arduino products.

I'm not making any assumptions at all.  I had previously read what the official policy of Arduino is, and I know a little about trademark law.  The official rules state:

If you're making your own board, come up with your own name! ..."Arduino" is a trademark of Arduino team and should not be used for unofficial variants.
...Not okay:

    Arduino Xxxxxx
    Xxxxxx Arduino
   



Seems clear.  That Arduino did not pursue legal action does not mean SmARtDUINO is in the right or legally allowed to use the name.  The standard for trademark infringement, IIRC, is whether a normal person would have any confusion about the relationship/origin of the products that infringe.  There were people who were confused by the naming and sought clarification from the creators - that alone proves there was confusion.

It's irrelevant if smARtDUINO was 'just a working name' as that is the name they chose to offer their products to the public under.

I'm not saying the SmaARtDUINO guys are shysters or scammers, but they most definitely leveraged the Arduino name and "relationship" (such as it was) to their advantage to get more $$.  I believe they infringed Arduino's trademark in doing so - but I'm not gonna lose any sleep over it.  If Arduino wants to sue, they can... they probably realized as most would that suing a guy in China is a fools errand, and let it go.

« Last Edit: June 04, 2013, 03:36:45 am by Corporate666 »
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Offline MacAttak

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #21 on: June 04, 2013, 07:40:46 am »
I'm not making any assumptions at all.  I had previously read what the official policy of Arduino is, and I know a little about trademark law.  The official rules state:

If you're making your own board, come up with your own name! ..."Arduino" is a trademark of Arduino team and should not be used for unofficial variants.
...Not okay:

    Arduino Xxxxxx
    Xxxxxx Arduino
   



Seems clear.  That Arduino did not pursue legal action does not mean SmARtDUINO is in the right or legally allowed to use the name.  The standard for trademark infringement, IIRC, is whether a normal person would have any confusion about the relationship/origin of the products that infringe.  There were people who were confused by the naming and sought clarification from the creators - that alone proves there was confusion.

It's irrelevant if smARtDUINO was 'just a working name' as that is the name they chose to offer their products to the public under.

I'm not saying the SmaARtDUINO guys are shysters or scammers, but they most definitely leveraged the Arduino name and "relationship" (such as it was) to their advantage to get more $$.  I believe they infringed Arduino's trademark in doing so - but I'm not gonna lose any sleep over it.  If Arduino wants to sue, they can... they probably realized as most would that suing a guy in China is a fools errand, and let it go.

Suing is frivolous in this case is because of the other half of what you quote from the usage requirements. Here is the whole thing with relevant parts in bold:

Quote
While unofficial products should not have "Arduino" in their name, it's okay to describe your product in relation to the Arduino project and platform. Here are a few guidelines that explain which uses we consider reasonable. Not okay:
  • Arduino Xxxxxx
  • Xxxxxx Arduino
  • Arduino Compatible Xxxxxx - use "Xxxxxx (Arduino-Compatible)" instead
Okay:
  • Xxxxxx for Arduino - products that work with official Arduino boards (e.g. shields or kits)
  • Xxxxxx (Arduino-Compatible) - variations and clones which are software and hardware compatible
Note that while we don't attempt to restrict uses of the "duino" suffix, its use causes the Italians on the team to cringe (apparently it sounds terrible); you might want to avoid it. (It's also trademarked by a Hungarian company.)

None of the boards in the SmartMaker line are using anything that resembles a variation of the "not okay" list. Two of the boards use the highlighted variation from the "okay" list. The remaining boards have names that are 100% unrelated to the Arduino name.

So based on that information, the only thing to worry about is potential action from an unnamed Hungarian company based on the temporary name that was only used in the Kickstarter campaign's original copy text. And even if Arduino held some legal standing on this, it wouldn't matter. You cannot selectively enforce a trademark. If you fail to defend it, then you forfeit the right to defend it. That's how trademark law works. To win any infringement case, they would also need to pursue infringement cases against the other products I listed. But again, there is nothing violated here so it's all moot anyways.

Now what does happen occasionally, and what Massimo assumed was the case here, is that Chinese based manufacturers will go and produce Arduino boards - branding them as "Arduino" - and sell them into the market. Arduino has every right to defend against counterfeiting, and they should.
 

Offline Corporate666

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Re: smARtDUINO - Real project with deceptive info
« Reply #22 on: June 04, 2013, 08:29:57 am »
I'm not making any assumptions at all.  I had previously read what the official policy of Arduino is, and I know a little about trademark law.  The official rules state:

If you're making your own board, come up with your own name! ..."Arduino" is a trademark of Arduino team and should not be used for unofficial variants.
...Not okay:

    Arduino Xxxxxx
    Xxxxxx Arduino
   



Seems clear.  That Arduino did not pursue legal action does not mean SmARtDUINO is in the right or legally allowed to use the name.  The standard for trademark infringement, IIRC, is whether a normal person would have any confusion about the relationship/origin of the products that infringe.  There were people who were confused by the naming and sought clarification from the creators - that alone proves there was confusion.

It's irrelevant if smARtDUINO was 'just a working name' as that is the name they chose to offer their products to the public under.

I'm not saying the SmaARtDUINO guys are shysters or scammers, but they most definitely leveraged the Arduino name and "relationship" (such as it was) to their advantage to get more $$.  I believe they infringed Arduino's trademark in doing so - but I'm not gonna lose any sleep over it.  If Arduino wants to sue, they can... they probably realized as most would that suing a guy in China is a fools errand, and let it go.

Suing is frivolous in this case is because of the other half of what you quote from the usage requirements. Here is the whole thing with relevant parts in bold:

Quote
While unofficial products should not have "Arduino" in their name, it's okay to describe your product in relation to the Arduino project and platform. Here are a few guidelines that explain which uses we consider reasonable. Not okay:
  • Arduino Xxxxxx
  • Xxxxxx Arduino
  • Arduino Compatible Xxxxxx - use "Xxxxxx (Arduino-Compatible)" instead
Okay:
  • Xxxxxx for Arduino - products that work with official Arduino boards (e.g. shields or kits)
  • Xxxxxx (Arduino-Compatible) - variations and clones which are software and hardware compatible
Note that while we don't attempt to restrict uses of the "duino" suffix, its use causes the Italians on the team to cringe (apparently it sounds terrible); you might want to avoid it. (It's also trademarked by a Hungarian company.)

None of the boards in the SmartMaker line are using anything that resembles a variation of the "not okay" list. Two of the boards use the highlighted variation from the "okay" list. The remaining boards have names that are 100% unrelated to the Arduino name.

So based on that information, the only thing to worry about is potential action from an unnamed Hungarian company based on the temporary name that was only used in the Kickstarter campaign's original copy text. And even if Arduino held some legal standing on this, it wouldn't matter. You cannot selectively enforce a trademark. If you fail to defend it, then you forfeit the right to defend it. That's how trademark law works. To win any infringement case, they would also need to pursue infringement cases against the other products I listed. But again, there is nothing violated here so it's all moot anyways.

Now what does happen occasionally, and what Massimo assumed was the case here, is that Chinese based manufacturers will go and produce Arduino boards - branding them as "Arduino" - and sell them into the market. Arduino has every right to defend against counterfeiting, and they should.

The claim that "nothing was violated" is an opinion that is not supported by case law.  All that really matters is whether the use of a name caused confusion to average consumers.  The answer to that can't be anything other than "yes" since that confusion was displayed on the kickstarter comments page.  So to the question of "did the name cause average people to think there was an affiliation" - it's a resounding yes.

It's true that a trademark must be defended for it to be valid, however I don't know that the trademark hasn't been defended... and granting a limited license as they do does not give others free reign to use the name as they see fit (in other words, just because some terms were called "not OK" does not limit infringement to only those terms.  It seems clear that they do not want the "Arduino" part used as part of someone else's product name, which smARtDUINO does).

It seems clear the smARtDUINO guys recognized this as they spent some time "clarifying" things, and apparently changed the name. 
« Last Edit: June 04, 2013, 08:31:36 am by Corporate666 »
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Offline quantumvolt

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I never saw this on Kickstarter, but I like it. It seems that no boards / modules are available yet.



Anyone interested in making a similar simpler design of a motherboard / docking bus / development board with satellite connectors to different platforms / modules / logic / analog / whatever ...

On eBay there are producers of colored cute modern silk mask double sided PCBs starting from USD  30-40 for 10 small units. So I guess it should be possible to get 100 decent sized main bus boards for a few hundred dollars. So if 50+ forum members go for a board or two each we are talking about 10/20 or so dollar per head.

And the fun of quarreling about the design here is free  ;D

« Last Edit: August 29, 2013, 11:33:39 pm by quantumvolt »
 

Offline AlfBaz

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Yeah but only if the mother board uses an MC68000 in a 40 pin cerdip package with a zif socket :)
 


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