On Arduino Officials, Clones, and Counterfeits

If you’re a developer, engineer, or even a student, you would have already heard about Arduino. The brand has become ubiquitous for all of us in the electronics world, with Arduinos becoming the brain for so many projects – from everyday objects to complex scientific instruments. Arduino boards come in all shapes and sizes but there are 3 main variations that you should know about.

Officials are boards that are made by authorized manufacturers and have the license to bear Arduino’s name and logo. These companies pay a small royalty to Arduino to help fund the project. The boards they make are directly supported by the official Arduino IDE, follow the Arduino layout, and are properly documented in Arduino’s website. A good example is Sparkfun Electronics in the USA.

Clones are boards that are (almost) exact replicas of Arduino boards with a different branding, i.e. they are usually named with some variation of Ardu-something or something-duino. These products are released according to trademark laws and have a place in the market.

Counterfeits are, as Massimo Banzi calls them, products that are really detrimental not just to the Arduino organization but to the open-source hardware movement as a whole. These are boards that clone the official board, including the Arduino branding – a clear violation of trademark laws. The organizations that make these products not only trick people into thinking they are buying an official Arduino (and supporting the Arduino project) but they also provide no support – for example, damaged products receive no help or replacement, which is unfair to customers! At the end of the day, customers end up spending MORE when the counterfeit breaks down, as it hasn’t been rigorously tested unlike the official boards.

The current price an official Arduino, even if it is a little more than clones, all go to:

  • developing new open source hardware
  • the documentation
  • CE/FCC certification
  • carbon offsetting
  • quality control
  • community management
  • publishing tutorials
  • make donations to other open source projects
  • hosting/maintanance website and forum (millions of users!)

Support the open-source hardware movement! See the official Arduino distributors near your area HERE. (Plug: ALL of our Arduinos come all the way from Italy. Absolutely no counterfeits here – guaranteed. 🙂 )

Click HERE for the official blog post of Massimo Banzi (one of the Arduino founders) on the subject and HERE for tips on how to spot a FAKE or COUNTERFEIT Arduino.

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