Update on the China Summit, Open Hardware Month, and Future Summits

This blog post is an update for the OSHWA community about the 2019 Open Hardware Summit in Shenzhen, October as Open Hardware Month, and how OSHWA will think about Summits going forward.

The tl;dr version of this post is:

  1. OSHWA will not be holding the Open Hardware Summit in 2019
  2. OSHWA will be encouraging locally-organized events and gatherings across the globe as part of Open Hardware Month this October (email us at info@oshwa.org if would like to host one!)
  3. OSHWA will shift the Summit to the spring starting in 2020. The Summit will also be held in the same city for at least 3 years starting in 2020.

There is a lot to unpack here, so let’s get to it.

2019 Open Hardware Summit in Shenzhen

At the end of the 2018 Summit OSHWA announced that it would be holding the 2019 Open Hardware Summit in Shenzhen, China.  Shenzhen has a vibrant local community of open source hardware enthusiasts. Many members of the OSHW community were also very excited for the opportunity to travel to a location that is so central to manufacturing innovation.

Unfortunately, in 2017 China implemented a law governing the activities of non-Chinese NGOs operating in China.  This law created a number of bureaucratic hurdles for organizations like OSHWA that were interested in holding events in China.

Among other things, the law requires OSHWA to find a local Chinese Partner Unit (CPU) willing to act as our sponsor for the Summit.  CPUs can only be certain types of organizations, such as universities or registered Chinese NGOs. Companies cannot serve as CPUs. The CPU must also be willing to undertake a significant number of bureaucratic steps to officially register the event and coordinate with local authorities.  In addition to the process required of the CPU, OSHWA itself would have to undertake a significant and burdensome number of steps to collect, verify, and provide paperwork to Chinese authorities (see this article “Reams of Paperwork: Preparing Documents to Get Official Status in China” and the checklist we prepared here for a sense of what is involved).

OSHWA has spent the last few months trying to identify a suitable CPU.  We have been unsuccessful, and do not have confidence that we will be successful in the future.  Furthermore, even if we were able to find a suitable CPU, OSHWA cannot justify the time and resources required to comply with the various filing requirements associated with the law.

As a result, OSHWA decided that it was better to cancel the 2019 Summit now, before speakers and attendees had made commitments and travel arrangements.

That being said, OSHWA is still committed to supporting the OSHW community.  That is why we are pairing this announcement with two additional announcements.

October as Open Hardware Month

OSHWA has traditionally supported October as Open Hardware Month.  Open Hardware Month is an opportunity for the community to hold local events, hackathons, and  documentation days as part of an international movement.

OSHWA wants to take this opportunity to expand Open Hardware Month events.  We will work to provide resources for the community to create to local events, aggregate information to make it easy to find events in your area (or know that you need to organize one), and collect stories, video, and images of the events as they occur.  These events will not be OSHWA run or carry the formal OSHWA name. We believe that Open Hardware Month will provide us an opportunity to shine a light on open source hardware events happening around the world. It will also provide an opportunity for local communities to raise their hand and be recognized by the global OSHWA community.  Please email info@oshwa.org to learn more and volunteer to be involved.

Spring Summit 2020

Cancelling the Shenzhen Summit and focusing on Open Hardware Month will also allow us to shift the Summit to the spring.  Over the years a number of Summit participants have told us that the spring is generally less crowded with events and obligations, so this shift should make it easier for more community members to attend.

Starting with the 2020 Summit OSHWA also intends to commit to a single US host city for at least three years.

For the past year the OSHWA board has been debating two alternative paths for the Summit.  The first path would continue the pattern of moving the Summit every year. The benefits of this path is that it allows the Summit to come to the many different communities that support OSHW.  The costs of this path are that it makes the Summit more expensive to operate because OSHWA needs to spend time and resources learning a new city every year. Switching cities also makes it hard to capitalize on the enthusiasm of local attendees in order to convert them into full community members.

Conversely, the alternative path is to commit to a single city for multiple years of the Summit.  The benefits of this path is that it allows OSHWA to run the Summit significantly more efficiently and makes it easier for community members to plan.  Holding the Summit in a single city allows OSHWA to grow the number of attendees by turning opportunistic local attendees into more permanent members of the community.   The cost of this path is that it prevents us from moving the Summit to all of the communities that support OSHW.

After significant discussion, OSHWA has decided to adopt the single city approach.  This decision was easier because we paired it with the expanded Open Hardware Month.  We believe that Open Hardware Month will help fill at least part of the gap created by a stationary Summit.

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While none of these decisions are being made lightly, OSHWA believes that combined they allow us to create a rhythm that is more supportive of the vibrant OSHW community.  Open Hardware Month in the fall will shine a spotlight on all of the local OSHW communities around the world. The Summit in the spring will provide those communities a single place to come together and meet in person.

As always, OSHWA exists because of its community and we want to hear from you.  Please let us know what you think in the comments below or in the forums.

OSHWA Supports Design Patent Clarity in Amicus Brief

OSHWA has just filed an amicus brief in a case regarding design patents. OSHWA urged the court to uphold a rule that a design patent covers only what the patent itself says it covers. This rule allows everyone to understand what is and is not protected by a design patent. A clear understanding of the scope of design patent protection is particularly important for open source hardware creators who share their design files for use and modification by others because they need to know when a patent would – and would not – apply to their design.

The Case

The case in U.S. court, called Curver Luxembourg SARL v. Home Expressions, Inc., is actually about furniture patterns. Curver applied for a design patent on a wicker pattern similar to one found in ancient Islamic designs. The pattern looks like this:

Design patents don’t protect abstract designs as represented in all things at all times. (Copyrights do that.) When you apply for a design patent you need to identify the “article of manufacture,” the actual thing that embodies the design. Curver initially failed to identify the thing that embodies the design, but eventually identified a “pattern for a chair.”

Curver’s designation of a “pattern for a chair” is important for what comes next. Another houseware manufacturer, Home Expressions, started selling a basket with a wicker pattern similar to Curver’s. Curver accused Home Expressions of infringing on Curver’s design patent. Curver believes that now that its patent for a “pattern for a chair” has been issued, the patent should be interpreted much more broadly to cover baskets, or any other object embodying the wicker design.

OSHWA’s Amicus Brief

From OSHWA’s standpoint, it does not really matter if the patterns on Curver’s and Home Expressions’ baskets are the same or not. What is important is that Curver’s patent is for the design embodied in chairs and baskets are not chairs (feel free to post your chair-basket venn diagrams in the comments). Curver should not be able to select arbitrarily or strategically the thing that embodies its design in order to get the patent, and then turn around and apply the patent well beyond the scope of that selection in the real world. Our brief asks the court to adopt a rule preventing that kind of behavior.

Regardless of what you think about the design patent system more broadly (and there are many opinions about it in the open source hardware community), the system can work only if patents give notice of what they cover. The “article of manufacture” (in this case, a chair) is essential to providing that notice because it shows how an otherwise abstract design applies to a particular object. It also places a reasonable limit on the scope of a design patent’s protection. Home Expressions should have been able to confidently ignore a chair-based patent in designing their basket.

The trial court agreed, and found for Home Expressions, but Curver has appealed the case. OSHWA has filed an amicus brief urging the appellate court to uphold the trial court. Our brief is in support of the rule that patents should be read to cover what they say they cover – and only what they say they cover.

This is important to the open source hardware community in at least two ways. First, creators cannot avoid infringing on existing patents if they do not have a way to understand what those patents do and do not cover. The patent system works only if people can figure out from patents themselves what those patents cover. This is important for maintaining a healthy environment for open source hardware creators to share design files with others without exposing themselves or other creators to unknown risks.

Second, some open source hardware creators rely on licenses to impose openness obligations on future users of their hardware. Those creators cannot understand when the openness obligations apply to future users or how far those obligations extend if they cannot understand when the design patents included in the license are being used.

Curver actually took the fairly unusual step of opposing our request to file our amicus brief. Fortunately, the court recognized that the open source hardware community could be impacted by the decision in this case and denied Curver’s attempt to keep us out.

OSHWA will continue to keep an eye on this case and provide updates as they develop. We would also like to say a big thank you to Kyle McLorg, George Laiolo, Erik Stallman, and Jennifer Urban at the Samuelson Law, Technology, & Public Policy Clinic at Berkeley Law for representing OSHWA in this case. They drafted the original brief, as well as the argument that convinced the court to accept it over Curver’s objections.

Welcome New Board Members

Welcome to the following 2018-2020 board members! Thank you to all OSHWA members who voted, your vote is important – we had quorum! Here are the results:

Drew Fustini

Drew has a passion for collaborating on Open Source Hardware and Free Software projects.  He is an Open Source Hardware designer and firmware developer at OSH Park.  Drew is also a board member of the BeagleBoard.org Foundation and maintains the BeagleBone Python library for Adafruit.

Michael Weinberg

Michael Weinberg is the Executive Director of the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy at the NYU School of Law. Before joining the Center he served as General Counsel at Shapeways, a 3D printing marketplace and service company, where he also oversaw strategic partnerships and developed new business initiatives. Prior to Shapeways Michael held a number of roles at Public Knowledge, a nonprofit public
interest advocacy organization dedicated to representing consumers and the public interest in technology policy debates in Washington, DC.

Jason Kridner

Jason Kridner is a Founder of the BeagleBoard.org Foundation and a 25 year veteran of Texas Instruments working in embedded systems. The BeagleBoard.org® Foundation is a US-based 501c3 non-profit existing to provide education in and collaboration around the design and use of open-source software and hardware in embedded computing. Jason leads the development of and maintains open-source development tools such as BeagleBoard®, -xM, -X15, BeagleBone®, Black, Blue and the new PocketBeagle®, a Linux-based open-source USB-key-fob computer. Kridner has been a featured keynote speaker and instructor at many industry and educational events including Maker Faires, American Society of Engineering Education Conference, ELC, Collaboration Summit, Android Builders, OSCON, CES and others.

Shah Selbe
Shah Selbe is the founder of Conservify and a National Geographic Explorer and Fellow. He is an engineer and conservation technologist that works with communities, NGOs, and developing countries to identify and deploy technologies that can help with their greatest conservation challenges. This includes low-cost observation platforms (conservation drones, acoustic sensors, open source sensors, satellite imagery, etc) and better methods to share and manage the data gathered (using mobile technologies, crowdsourcing, etc). He founded the first solely conservation technology makerspace and nonprofit prototyping lab called Conservify, which uses open source technology to empower local communities to bring innovative tools into how we change our planet’s’ future. Over the last few years, Conservify has built open source hardware for use in the field on National Geographic expeditions and through our network of scientists and conservationists. Our work has included water quality characterization in Peru’s Boiling River, biodiversity protection in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, tracking glacial melt in Canada’s Banff National Park, understanding the behaviors of Congo’s lowland gorillas, helping citizen scientists monitor water in the Amazon Rainforest, and many more diverse activities across the globe. Our main initiative is FieldKit, an open-source software and hardware platform (environmental sensors, app, and FieldKit.org website) that allows individuals and organizations to collect and share field-based research data and tell stories through interactive visualizations. Designed to be easy to deploy customizable, FieldKit can be adapted to meet the needs of diverse research teams, from biology and ecology to marine and environmental sciences, from post-doc researchers to elementary school students. FieldKit offers a simple platform for enabling live data expeditions, and for the creation and deployment of environmental sensor networks or in situ monitoring.
Shah is also a New England Aquarium Ocean Conservation Fellow and PopTech Social Innovation Fellow. Before becoming a conservation technologist, Shah spent 10 years as a rocket scientist building and launching satellites with Boeing.
Eric Pan
Maker and Biker, founder of Seeed Studio, Chaihuo makerspace and Maker Faire Shenzhen. He is a Believer of open source and crowd innovations. His major efforts is creating Seeed since 2008, as an technology service company to provide open hardware and agile manufacture service. Seeed work closely with technology providers to offer an open, modular and structured solution for IoT and AI. It also integrates the supply chain resources basing in Shenzhen to help scale prototypes up to mass productions. With all the works done to accelerate hardware innovators and maker culture, he has been well recognized by public and industries.
Jeffrey Warren
The creator of GrassrootsMapping.org and co-founder and Research Director for Public Lab, Jeffrey Warren designs mapping and community science tools and professionally flies balloons and kites. Notable software he has created include the vector-mapping framework Cartagen and orthorectification tool MapKnitter, as well as open spectral database and toolkit Spectral Workbench.
He is on the board (since 2014) of alternative education program Parts and Crafts in Somerville MA, and an advocate of open source software, hardware, and data. He co-founded Vestal Design, a graphic/interaction design firm in 2004, and directed the Cut&Paste Labs project, a year-long series of workshops on open source tools and web design in 2006-7 with Lima designer Diego Rotalde.
Jeff holds an MS from MIT and a BA in Architecture from Yale University, and spent much of that time working with artist/technologist Natalie Jeremijenko, building robotic dogs and stuff. To find out more, visit Unterbahn.com
Photo by ChristopherVillafuerte.com CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

2018-2020 Board Member Nominees – Votes for Members!

Become an OSHWA member today to vote on nominees!

This year, we have 6 open seats on the OSHWA board. Board members will hold a 2-year position. Once board members have been chosen by the community, the board will appoint a President, VP, and Secretary. As every nominee answered “Yes” to having 5-10 hours a month to give to the board, we did not include that question in each nominee’s data. Board responsibilities include fundraising, advising on goals and direction, and carrying out compliance of the organization’s purposes and bylaws. The vote will be open on Nov. 8th-12th. Members will be emailed a link to vote.

Here are the nominees in alphabetical order:

Tom Callaway

Why do you want to be on the board?
To continue to support the open source hardware community, and to bring my expertise in open source community management to the OSH community.

What qualifies you to be a board member?
I have been at Red Hat since 2001, and was responsible for Red Hat’s adoption of open source hardware in its 3d printing labs. I feel that the experiences that I have had working with the Open Source software community over the last 15 years will transfer well to the challenges faced by the Open Source Hardware Community. I’ve worked to ensure that Red Hat remains a visible contributor to the Open Source Hardware community (despite producing no hardware of its own), as well as incorporating Open Source Hardware opportunities in my education outreach efforts (e.g. funding work with CU Boulder’s BTU lab)

Drew Fustini

Why do you want to be on the board?
I want to help grow the Open Source Hardware movement through outreach and advocacy to communities that are as familiar with the open source hardware philosophy and the potential benefits.

What qualifies you to be a board member?
The OSHW philosophy and community is very important and special to me.
I am a founding member of OSHWA and have attended the Open Hardware Summit since the first year. I want to take a more active role and help grow this community and increase it’s usefulness.

Harris Kenny

Why do you want to be on the board?
I have had the privilege of being on the OSHWA Board for a single two-year term. During this time, I served as Treasurer for two years and contributed to or advised the certification of 26 projects (most recently, a desktop computer line and associated IO boards.) I’ve also helped with OH Summit. If re-elected for a second term, my goal would be to build on this work.

I want to hand off my knowledge of being treasurer to a new successor and improve how we grow OSHWA financially. I also want to identify ways to improve the certification process and documentation to support new categories of products and projects becoming open source hardware. I see certification as instrumental to growing the social and technical impact of open source hardware in art, research, education, and industry.

What qualifies you to be a board member?
I have served on the OSHWA Board for the last two years as Treasurer and spoke at OH Summit 2016 in Portland. During the day, I am the Director of Business Development for System76, maker of Linux laptops, desktops, and servers. I coordinated the certification of the company’s new flagship desktop: Thelio. I previously served as President of Aleph Objects (maker of LulzBot 3D printers) and worked there for five years. I also earned an MBA from the University of Denver.

I believe deeply in the importance of freely licensing art and technology and ensuring that doing so is sustainable for creators. In my personal time, I contribute to public data projects like Wikipedia and Open Street Map and run Linux at home. Overall, I bring my business background to OSHWA along with with my passion for the values of the free software and open source hardware communities.

Jason Kridner

Why do you want to be on the board?
Open hardware matters as a means to improve technology accessibility, aide education, and foster general freedoms, including the right-to-repair and the right-to-know. OSHWA has assembled an amazing community and I feel obligated to help achieve our common goals, especially the one saying we desire to “Educate the general public about open source hardware and its socially beneficial uses.” Who doesn’t want to make the world a better place? This is an area where I feel I can help.

What qualifies you to be a board member?
My focus has been on open hardware since 2008 and I’ve built a successful open hardware brand in BeagleBoard.org, which continues to grow in terms of volume and participation. I’m acquainted with the leaders in the community having begun my foray into open hardware in 2008 and having been a speaker at several of the previous Open Hardware Summit events. I’ve demonstrated to leaders in the open hardware movement that my intentions go beyond any one sub-community to the goals of the community at large. My skills in interacting with these other leaders, gathering output from volunteers and driving consensus in diverse settings should be valuable to the board, organization and community.

Akshai M

Why do you want to be on the board?
I shall convince the team to promote Freedom in Open Source Hardware Projects. We need the concept of freedom embedded into the very fabric of Open Source Hardware. I will work with the team to bring a long term ( 3 Year) roadmap to promote Open Source Hardware and its adoption in devoloping nations and shall strive to align my goals with UN Sustainable Development Goals for the greater benefit of the world.

What qualifies you to be a board member?
Currently working with the Government of Kerala, India, to enable Open Source Hardware Manufacturing in the state and bring about an ecosystem for the development of Open Source Projects on LoRaWAN based IoT Projects. Worked extensively on ExpEYES project and MicroHOPE project. Worked with the Kerala State Government to bring 22 Open Source IoT Labs in the state.

Eric Pan

Why do you want to be on the board?
Help expand the influence of OSHWA to more industries and regions.

What qualifies you to be a board member?
As founder of Seeed Studio, working on open hardware since 2008, participated since the first OHS, well experienced most pains and gains of open hardware. Have solid faith over open hardware and proactively exploring possibilities to support it to the next level.

Rolly Seth

Why do you want to be on the board?
I owe most of the credit of what I have learned in life and where I am today to the open web of knowledge and maker community supporters. I feel it is time for me to share my learnings and give back. As a board member, along with contributing to the OSHW (Open Source Hardware) certification and summit, I would like to promote OSHWA’s mission especially in Pacific Northwest region and explore how global organizations, such as Microsoft can contribute and support. Coming from a technology industry where with each passing day, AI (artificial intelligence) and IoT (Internet of Things) seem to play a more important role to impact society, consumers and communities are looking for more creative hardware solutions, which are easy to connect and secured. As a maker/hardware enthusiast myself, I believe the community will play a critical role in achieving the target of 20+ billion connected devices by 2020 and OSHWA can provide a great platform to activate and engage that community.
Hardware and Software must go hand in hand to develop next generation of devices and services. An active discussion and engagement with community can help understand consumer needs, set the right interoperable, secured standards and frameworks; and support the next wave of DIY manufacturing and personal fabrication.
OSHWA has come a long way since its inception in 2012. Several people across the world now understand and appreciates the value of producing open source hardware (OSH) and know the steps to produce OSH with recent OSH 2.0 certification guidelines. With DIY manufacturing becoming more within reach and edge computing becoming the need of the hour, OSHWA can play a critical role in driving the required next level change.
I believe in the vision and values of Open Source Hardware and want to play an active role in contributing to the next generation of hardware revolution.

What qualifies you to be a board member?
I believe my background, my passion and future pursuits qualify me to be a board member of OSHWA.
a). Background-
An electronics and communication engineer by background coupled with a liberal arts fellowship, I have been fascinated with exploring how technology can be integrated with multi-disciplinary fields to create more seamless and unique experiences.
My team has won several local and international accolades for some of the hardware projects we worked on in the past decade such as viSparsh, a haptic belt for visually impaired -http://visparsh.blogspot.com/ , which was accredited among top 12 Asian Innovation of 2012 by The Wall Street Journal. Other past awards, including Accenture Innovation Jockeys and Singularity University’s Global Impact Competition can be found here- http://rollyseth.com/awards
Inspired by Maker Movement, my friend and I activated the maker community at Microsoft India and opened Microsoft India’s first makerspace in 2015. I contributed to several creative hardware prototypes from humanoid to cloud connected t-shirt to an open source hardware and software solution such as https://github.com/Microsoft/kinect-ripple (Dual projection interactive framework).
I started my career as a Scientist Fellow in Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, India and have worked in the government, research and non-profit sectors. My background gives me an understanding and needs of various sectors and have a strong connection with hardware, making and DIY.

b). Current & Future –
I currently lead the Microsoft Garage space, programming and communities in Microsoft HQ – Redmond. Microsoft Garage is Microsoft’s experimentation outlet for employees where we have thousands of makers in the Redmond campus and at major development centers worldwide. My role here involves staying updated with the recent technology and multi-disciplinary trends and explore how we can enable Microsoft makers and hackers to learn by doing and contribute in those areas.
Personally, I am about to finish ‘52 weekends of Making’ challenge https://www.youtube.com/c/RollySeth , which I undertook to expand my thinking of how traditional creative making mediums can integrate with emerging technologies to create more ambient scenarios of the future.
I believe in the power of the collective and my industry & personal experiences provide me with a unique space to contribute to the Open Source Hardware & DIY manufacturing culture.
I look forward to exploring how I can bring my diverse skills to the table as part of OSHWA.

Shah Selbe

Why do you want to be on the board?
I had such a great experience with the people that I met at the Open Hardware Summit and it made me want to be part of the community. I’d like to contribute to bring open hardware into areas that it hasn’t been used before and give back.

What qualifies you to be a board member?
I’ve been a leader in many professional organizations in the past (Engineers Without Borders, Systems Engineering Professional Society, National Geographic Explorers, etc) that I could help with many different tasks. I would love to help fulfill the vision of open hardware and bring the organization to the next level.

Jeffrey Yoo Warren

Why do you want to be on the board?
I’ve involved in many discussions at OSHWA about the open hardware community and open hardware intellectual property and legal matters — most recently in the discussions around an Open Hardware Certification model. I feel that my perspective on open source hardware strikes a balance between the functional argument that open hardware is a better way to create hardware, and the ethical position that we should have the right to examine/copy/modify/distribute designs — that open collaboration is a better model for our society. I believe deeply in community-driven processes, while also believing that for-profit organizations can — and stand to benefit greatly from — being “good open hardware citizens.”

I really believe that if an individual or organization thinks of open sourcing their work as a kind of charity, as opposed to as a way to improve it through rigorous community testing and input, they are missing the point. Working in an open source model is an acknowledgment that we don’t have all the answers, and that, whether we just ‘put it out there’ for people to build on, or actively seek input and collaboration from a broader and more diverse public, we are seeking to incorporate new and better ideas into the work, and are aware of our own limitations as engineers, designers, technologists, and more.

Most of all, I believe strongly that the key to a healthy open source hardware movement is culture. We must continue and improve upon our open, discursive approach to open hardware, and to build strong norms to guide our work, so that we can continue to invent, collaborate, and benefit from one anothers’ work. This spans from good documentation to standards of design file publication, to refining the pace and practices of the actual collaboration in online forums, publication platforms, and even in-person meetings.

Finally, I believe in the power of the perspectives, ideas, and active participation of people who have been excluded (structurally or otherwise) from the growing open hardware community, and feel that we have a responsibility to work towards a more equitable and inclusive community.

What qualifies you to be a board member?
I’ve served on the OSHWA board for 2 years, and have been deeply interested in open hardware both through my work at Public Lab, and as part of the broader free/libre/open source movement. Public Lab, a community of thousands of people engaged in collaboratively developing affordable and accessible environmental testing techniques and equipment, has been using the CERN Open Hardware License for several years, and I participated in the discussions and comment period which led to version 1.2 of that license. I am a producer and consumer of open source hardware and free/libre/open source software, notably as a lead developer of Public Lab’s DIY Spectrometer and associated SpectralWorkbench.org software suite (http://publiclab.org/lego), as well as the Infragram multispectral camera (http://publiclab.org/infragram) and associated Infragram.org image compositing system. Since 2011, using our published designs and kits, over six thousand people have constructed their own spectrometers, and many have contributed back their refinements and additions. The size and scope of this project gives me key insight into how a diverse community of contributors can collaboratively tackle complex hardware design, and into the challenges of scaling such a model.

I’ve also served as the secretary of OSHWA, taking minutes on board meetings, and have missed almost none of the meetings over the years I served — an attendance record I’m proud of. I would be excited to once again represent the interests of community-based open hardware contributors everywhere during an additional two years of service.

Michael Weinberg

Why do you want to be on the board?
While not as important as actual design and creation of OSHW, legal and licensing issues have the potential to have a huge impact on its development and growth. OSS serves as a guide, but not a perfect analogy, for hardware. I want to be on the board of OSHWA to try and help make sure that legal and policy structures are in place to foster OSHW. I also want to make sure that the OSHWA does everything it can to encourage the development of easy to understand best practices that allow non-lawyers to easily navigate some of these thorny issues.

What qualifies you to be a board member?
I’ve been the point person for the OSHWA certification process since 2015 and would like to continue doing so.

OSHWA 2018-2020 Board Nominations Open!

OSHWA is looking for 6 new faces to join the board of directors for the Open Source Hardware Association. The nominee form is for self-nominations only. Please fill out the nominee form (deactivated Nov. 4th) to become a nominee or forward the link to someone you want to nominate. Do not fill out the form for someone else. The purpose of this form is to tell voting members why you want to serve on the OSHWA board. We will be publish the nominees and their answers on Nov. 5th. Board members hold a 2-year position. Once board members have been chosen by the community, the board will appoint a President, VP, and Secretary. Board responsibilities include fundraising, advising on goals and direction, and carry out compliance with the organizations purposes and bylaws. See the board member agreement to get a sense of the responsibilities. Board members are expected to adhere to the board attendance policy and come prepared having read the board packet. Board members are expected to spend 5-10 hours of time per month on OSHWA. Nominees can submit questions to info@oshwa.org. Nominations will be open until Nov. 4th.

Member voting will take place Nov. 8-12. Want to vote in the election? Become a member! Please note that only individuals can vote, corporate members cannot.

OSHWA Certification 2.0 is Here

Today at the Open Hardware Summit OSHWA launched version 2.0 of the open source hardware certification program. We have a new website, a new directory, and  lots of new resources for learning about open source hardware.  You should really check it out.

We announced our intention to create this new version of the certification back in March.  Since then we have been working in consultation with the board and the community to develop a new version of the site.  Version 2 of the certification site uses specific examples from the community to illustrate best practices and licensing decisions for creators of open source hardware.

Launched in 2016, the original certification program has been a success.  We have certified over 200 pieces of hardware from 27 countries on 5 continents.  The certification logo is making it easier to find open source hardware that meets the community definition of open source hardware and the certification process makes it easier to incorporate best practices into releasing open source hardware.

With that being said, there is always room for improvement.  In addition to the community, with the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation we have been working with the Technology Law and Policy Clinic at NYU Law and the design team at Objectively think through the best way to make version 2 work for everyone.

Besides overhauling the look and feel of the site (embedding google docs in wordpress pages helped us get the program up and running quickly, but that approach admittedly comes with some design limitations), OSHWA had three primary goals for the the new website:

Consolidate Information

Since its founding, OSHWA has created a series of fantastic resources such as best practices and FAQs to help the community develop open hardware.  Each of these resources was developed in response to specific concerns, building up on existing resources and expanding explanations.

One side effect of that development history is that resources sometimes contained overlapping information that did not completely align.  It could also be hard to know exactly where to go to find a specific answer.

The new certification site borrows from the previously-developed resources and consolidates them into a unified presentation.  OSHWA has worked hard to create paths that are helpful for new members of the community just getting up to speed and existing members who want to take a deeper dive into something specific.  The new site allows you to skim along the top of information related to open source hardware and then immerse yourself in information when something catches your eye.

Licensing Guidance

There is no getting around the fact that licensing open source hardware is more complicated than licensing open source software. There are multiple elements to consider (hardware, software, documentation, etc.), multiple types of intellectual property at play, and some ambiguity around what is even protectable.

For the first time, OSHWA is providing specific guidance on licensing.  That guidance comes in two forms.

First, OSHWA recommends explicitly and individually licensing hardware, software, and documentation associated with a piece of certified hardware.  This will bring true clarity to future users.  The certification application now requires you to specify a license for each of these elements.

Second, OSHWA recommends specific licenses for each of those elements.  These recommendations are not exclusive, and OSHWA is happy to consider adding additional licenses as they are developed or as the community requests.  The recommended licences were chosen in an attempt to make it easy to pick a license that works for you.  This process is further simplified by providing examples of existing certified hardware that use a given license.  That means that users who are not sure which license to use can simply follow in the path of other hardware creators that they trust.

Searchability

The first version of the certification directory was a google spreadsheet embedded in a web page.  That made it easy to get certified hardware listed online.  It made it hard to actually explore the directory.

The new certification directory fundamentally redesigns the user experience. It is now easy to find hardware, search by features, and drill down into what is really available.  We hope that this makes the directory a much more useful resource for the community.

Next Steps

Version 2 is the newest version of the certification process, but it does not have to be the last.  Play around with it, certify something, and let us know what you think.  If you have ideas for features or information, or licenses you think we missed, please let us know in the forums.

Join OSHWA today!

As participants in the Open Source Hardware Community, we invite you to join us in the expansion of our member base. Industry leaders have long recognized the need for better communication between sectors at the local level, and your support provides the structured forum needed.

With participation in local OSHWA branches, you have the opportunity to focus on local OSHW problems and join in finding solutions by networking more effectively with other members of the community. New technologies and national standards require expanded educational opportunities, which are offered through the local branches. Through your local branch, we can share information more effectively, mutually consider legislative and communal needs and, by working together, provide the best possible service to the public!

More information on membership dues can be found at www.oshwa.org/membership/. All that is required is your participation.

For questions or additional information, please contact us at Info@OSHWA.org or Caleb@OSHWA.org.

We look forward to seeing you at our next OSHWA meeting!

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Revoking Certification for ES000001: MOTEDIS XYZ

Today, for the first time in the history in the Open Source Hardware Certification Program, OSHWA is revoking the certification for hardware.  OSHWA is revoking the certification for the MOTEDIS XYZ 3D printer, with the UID ES000001, because the documentation is no longer publicly available.  We have attempted to contact Motedis with a request to re-post the documentation but they have not been responsive.

Since this is the first time OSHWA has revoked a certification, we want to explain what happened, as well as what we will do in order to help prevent this type of situation in the future.

What happened

A few weeks ago, a community member wrote in and noted that the documentation link for the XYZ was no longer live.  After reaching out to the contact person listed in the certification application, we have been unable to obtain a copy of the documentation to post publicly.   Without the documentation, the XYZ is no longer in compliance with the program. Therefore OSWHA revoked the certification.

What it means

Revoking the certification means that going forward the XYZ can no longer be advertised as being certified open source hardware.  It does not mean that Motedis’ failure to provide documentation today makes them retroactively in violation of the certification rules.  The certification requires that the documentation be available at the time of certification. It does not require the certifying party to commit to making a copy of that documentation available in perpetuity.  This is a burden that is unreasonable to expect of a party applying for certification.

What now

When the Certification program was being developed, there was a debate over whether or not OSHWA should try and host a repository of all of the certified hardware.  One advantage of such a centralized repository would have been to allow OSHWA itself to maintain archive copies of documentation.

However, that approach also comes with costs.  Developing and maintaining a feature-complete documentation hosting solution is beyond OSHWA’s core competency.  Many good solutions for developing and maintaining software and documentation already exist online. Requiring certifiers to update and maintain yet another repository of documentation in order to certify was determined to be unnecessarily burdensome.  Instead, the certification directory supports links which point to the place where the developers already host and maintain their documentation.

OSHWA continues to believe that this decentralized approach is correct.  Nonetheless, the first revocation of certification provides us with an opportunity to consider improvements.  OSHWA has started to investigate a process that would allow us to archive a version of all documentation. This archive would not be used at the primary documentation storage location.  Instead, it would only be used in the event that the original documentation was no longer available. That would allow users of hardware to access documentation even after the responsible party stops supporting it as open.

If you have thoughts about this, please let us know in the forums.

OSHWA Certification Logo is Official

We at OSHWA are excited to announce that the OSHWA Certification process has an officially registered trademark. This registration will make it easier for OSHWA to prevent people from using the OSHWA Open Source Hardware Certification logo if they have not actually gone through the certification process. We hope this will give the community more confidence when they see the OSHWA certification logo on hardware out in the world.

While there are many good faith ways to describe something as “open source hardware,” OSHWA considers certified projects to have met the gold standard of open source hardware by formally committing to comply with all of the elements of the community definition.

Are Trademarks Compatible with Open Source Hardware?

Trademarks are not in conflict with open source hardware. Trademarks are designed to indicate the origins of goods, not to control their reproduction. Knowing who produced something is especially important with hardware, because who actually manufactured hardware can be just as important to its reliability as who designed it.

Trademarks also do not prevent someone else from building on or using hardware that is protected by the mark. Companies like Lulzbot, Evil Mad Scientist, Adafruit, and Sparkfun all make open source hardware that anyone can copy, improve, or build upon. What people cannot do is pretend that their version of the hardware came from one of those companies by selling their version under the brand name of the original creator. That makes sense, because the original creator is no longer responsible for the new versions.

When creators have invited the world to make use of their open hardware, trademarks are how we know which pieces of hardware still come from the original designer. OSHWA believe that strong brand identities are compatible with a vibrant open source hardware ecosystem.

What OSHWA’s Trademark Means

The OSHWA Open Source Hardware Certification process is designed to make it easy for end users to quickly tell if their hardware meets the community definition of Open Source Hardware.  When you see the OSHWA certification logo, you know what “open source hardware” really means.

example mark

The trademark will allow us to control how people use the certification logo out in the world. In concrete terms, it means that someone who fraudulently uses the OSHWA certification logo on hardware that does not meet the community definition is infringing on the OSHWA trademark.  That means that OSHWA could bring a trademark infringement action against that person. This will allow OSHWA to protect the integrity of the certification mark.

What  OSHWA’s Trademark Doesn’t Mean

As we noted in a post at the outset of the certification development process, OSHWA has no interest in controlling, nor ability to control, who gets to use the term “open source hardware.”  Similarly, OSHWA does not have, nor desire, any control over who gets to use the Gear Logo and when they get to use it. Open Source Hardware is a concept that was developed by the community and continues to evolve as the community evolves.

Instead, OSHWA’s trademark will allow OSHWA to control the OSHWA-specific certification process.  If the community definition of open source hardware is important to you, the OSHWA certification logo will be an easy way to know that the hardware you are holding matches that definition.

What is Next?

We are getting excited to launch version 2.0 of the certification process at the Summit this September.  One of the big goals of 2.0 is to make it even easier to understand how licensing works with open source hardware, and make it easy to explore hardware that has already been certified.  If you are at the Summit you will be able to see that launch in person. If you can’t make it, keep an eye on this space for updates.

Also, a huge thank you to the students of the Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic at Stanford University Law School for guiding OSHWA through the registration process.

Thoughts?  Questions? You can always find OSHWA on Twitter, Facebook, and in the forums.

 

OSHWA Certification 2.0

After almost a year and a half of community discussion, OSHWA unveiled the Open Source Hardware Certification Program at the 2016 Open Hardware Summit.  Today, with the help of a major grant from the Sloan Foundation, we are excited to announce that we are taking major steps towards Certification 2.0.

The original certification program has some fairly straightforward goals.  It is designed to make it easy for creators to identify their hardware as compliant with the community definition of open source hardware, as well as make it easy for users to know that hardware that is advertised as “open source” meets  their expectations.  The certification process gives a creator confidence that they have done everything required to call their hardware open source.  The certification logo gives users confidence that they will be able to access, build upon, and hack any hardware that they receive.

We didn’t know what to expect when we launched the certification program and have been blown away by the results.  There are currently 170 certified hardware projects from 18 countries on 5 continents participating in the program.

While we are excited about the certification program, shortly after it launched we started thinking of ways to improve it.  The current interface built on a combination of google forms and wordpress is functional, but not necessarily elegant.  Once the process was live, we also started getting feedback from users on ways to make it better.  One major concern was that the registration process exists in a bit of a vacuum.  It asks the creator to verify that she has complied with all of the requirements but does not provide very much guidance on the best ways to comply or the various choices that can be made and still comply.

For the past year we have been working with the Technology Law and Policy Clinic at the New York University School of Law to create more robust guidance to help creators navigate the licensing, documentation, and other decisions that creators must make when they are working towards certification.  We have also been working with the team at Objectively to turn that guidance into an interactive process that draws on examples from the community.

The grant from the Sloan Foundation allows us to take that work and turn the certification into a much more robust and useful resource.  We are hoping to have the new site ready to launch by the 2018 Summit.  Until then, please let us know if you have thoughts, ideas, or concerns.  We are very excited about the next chapter of the Certification Program and hope you will be too.