[Discuss] OSHW Best Practices / Layers of Openness

Chris Church thisdroneeatspeople at gmail.com
Thu Feb 28 16:37:44 UTC 2013

Hi all,

I've appreciated reading this discussion, and I think it's a great one to be having.

> Also, my point about using the logo on an enclosure vs. on the PCB inside it wasn't meant as a comment on the relative importance of those two parts but of the semantic interpretation of placing the logo in those places. If I opened up a product and saw the OSHW logo on some part inside it, I wouldn't interpret it to apply to things around it. But if I saw the logo on the outside of a product, it's not clear whether or not it's intended to apply to the insides as well, making its use there confusing if the outsides are open-source but the insides aren't.

I think the distinction here, which you do a great of giving an example of in the following paragraph, should be on "functional," vs. "protective or decorative."  That is to say, for the majority of electronics products out there, the enclosure is merely protective of the contents, and may have some decorative elements.  (The physical decorative elements themselves may fall under copyright, design patents, or trade dress rules as necessary - consider the Apple MacBook case designs, or as we have grown to doing: putting blue plastic sections on our cases that match our company color to differentiate them from clones.)

I don't think one could argue that the real product (the functional component) is not open-source if they can't copy the decorative and trade dress elements of the product.  If an enclosure is simply intended to protect the open-source contents, I don't see why the OSHW logo couldn't be applied to the enclosure. Much like the copyright, or patent notices on products - they are as typically as informative of the contents as they are of the exterior. 

Now, if the bulk of the interior components were NOT OSHW, I'd have a hard time seeing that term applied.  Generally speaking, my personal measure (and I really have a hard time seeing how to make something like this as a 'rule' could work) is whether or not the -entire creation of the producing entity contained within- the product is open-source.  That is to say, if I combine three closed-source boards, and one small board I made OSHW inside of an enclosure, it would be non-sensical to put an OSHW logo on it.  However, if I create something with multiple functions, and one of those functions requires a 3rd-party radio, then as long as everything else I have contributed inside of that enclosure is open, I wouldn't see an issue with putting an OSHW logo on there.


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