[Discuss] OSHW Best Practices / Layers of Openness

Laura James lbjames at gmail.com
Fri Mar 1 08:48:12 UTC 2013

Indeed, there are many types of openness, not just in hardware
(electronics, chips, tools and buildings) but in associated areas such as
manufacturing, materials, supply chains, radio spectrum...

The Open Knowledge Foundation champions open data, open content and open
knowledge of all kinds and is also the home of the Open Definition, which
defines what it means to be open ("A piece of data or content is open if
anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it — subject only, at most,
to the requirement to attribute and/or share-alike").


Worth making sure that all these efforts are truly open and truly reusable

As someone who has previously worked in security, I note that some
perfectly valid open hardware systems may have tamper detection (not to
stop reverse engineering, but because there are devices where it's nice to
know tampering has occurred (perhaps gas meters, for example). Like open
source software is best for security algorithms, open source hardware can
be good for security hardware.


On 28 February 2013 23:56, Alicia Gibb <pip at nycresistor.com> wrote:

> We have to remember also that enclosures are just an example of mechanical
> types of open hardwre. There are also large scale things like open source
> hardware farm equipment: http://opensourceecology.org/ And many other
> mechanical projects include electronics as the secondary piece of its
> functionality or are not present at all.
> Alicia
> On Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 1:51 PM, Windell H. Oskay <windell at oskay.net>wrote:
>> 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.
>> Cheers,
>> -Windell
>> Windell H. Oskay, Ph.D.
>> Co-Founder and Chief Scientist
>> Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
>> 175 San Lazaro Ave, STE 150
>> Sunnyvale CA 94086
>> http://www.evilmadscientist.com/
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