[Discuss] OSHW Best Practices / Layers of Openness

Windell H. Oskay windell at oskay.net
Thu Feb 28 19:51:13 UTC 2013

On Feb 28, 2013, at 11:21 AM, Chris Church <thisdroneeatspeople at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Windell,
> This appears to leave my earlier question un-addressed: physical parts of our enclosures are part of our trade dress, must I give the full right to reproduce our trade dress (which I would be doing if I shared the machining files under CC for our enclosures) to claim my electronics are open-source?  

Hi Chris,
  You are explicitly not required to share your trade dress.  OSHW community standards are quite clear about this.  

From the introduction to the OSHW definition ( http://freedomdefined.org/OSHW ):

"[...]persons or companies producing items ("products") under an OSHW license have an obligation to make it clear that such products are not manufactured, sold, warrantied, or otherwise sanctioned by the original designer and also not to make use of any trademarks owned by the original designer."

Usually, with printed logos and so forth, this is pretty straightforward: Just leave those decorative trademark elements out of the design files when preparing files for OSHW documentation.

However, if you are also claiming your functional front panel layout-- where the holes for components are located, for example --as part of the trade dress, that's your choice.  But it is a choice that is incompatible with labeling that portion of your product as Open Source Hardware.    

Does putting OSHW inside a proprietary box of your own design make the stuff inside non-OSHW?  No, I don't think so.  But I do think that you that it prevents you putting an overall label of "OSHW" on the product.   


Windell H. Oskay, Ph.D.
Co-Founder and Chief Scientist
Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
175 San Lazaro Ave, STE 150 
Sunnyvale CA 94086

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