IoTaWatt License and Trademark

I note the IoTaWatt licence recently added at IoTaWatt/LICENSE at master · boblemaire/IoTaWatt · GitHub has a good plain English summary. The hardware has a different licence at IoTaWatt/LICENSE at master · boblemaire/IoTaWatt · GitHub.

It all looks reasonable to me, essentially free to use with attribution and a few other clauses to protect the creator. The legal stuff is a bit heavy and I don’t really understand the reason for different licenses so I’d be happy for someone to explain the key differences.

In particular I’m confused by the prohibition of using the IoTaWatt trademark without permission. How does this work with Open Source Hardware?

  1. Would you just delete the trademark from the PCB and not describe the hardware as an IoTaWatt?
  2. How is attribution given without infringing the rights of the trademark?
  3. Wouldn’t the forum topic Homebrew IoTaWatt effectively infringe the rights of the trademark?
  4. How does a trademark work with other (Homebrew) devices running IoTaWatt software?

Feel free to put me straight.

This is very common for open-hardware. Basically you should say that any derivatives created are ‘derived from IotaWat’ or ‘based on IotaWatt’ but you cannot claim that a deriviative IS an ‘IoTaWatt’ or used the ‘IotaWatt’ name to suggest this without the creator @overeasy 's permission.

This is the same as Arduino and RaspberryPi, see their pages on what you can and can’t do:

I would say no, since the title “homebew IotaWatt” is giving ‘credit’ to IotaWatt without making any claims to be an official ‘IotaWatt’. The word ‘homebrew’ is key here! Also homebrew IotaWatt’s are not being sold.

What do you have in mind for the IoTaWatt? It’s best to be open with the community so we can discuss and help you.

I can’t offer you legal advice. IotaWatt, Inc. put significant legal research into the effort to both make the software and hardware open and at the same time be able to differentiate the hardware and software that is produced by the original creator.

The basic model is very similar to the Arduino project, where their official boards are identified by their trademarks. While I doubt IoTaWatt will ever enjoy the widespread adaptation of Arduino, the principles are the same. One of the Arduino founders Massimo Banzi explains it well here.

@flywire, you have made inquiries of my manufacturing partner, asking them for quotes to produce 100 units for you. I’ve made the investment to obtain legal advice for how to properly make this project open and available to all, while protecting the name that identifies my efforts going forward so that there is no confusion in the marketplace over what is produced by IoTaWatt and what is produced by others.

I have learned that manufacturing is more than sending gerbers to a board house. There are specific sources for parts, procedures, hardware and software for testing, and procedures for packaging. There are standards for components like RoHS, and there is compliance testing of documented samples for CE and FCC as OpenEnergyMonitor has done.

You are free to explore what you see as an opportunity to commercially develop your own brand, but understand that along with that comes all of these infrastucture requirements, and you may not call the result an IoTaWatt.


@Glyn.Hudson @overeasy Thank you for the explanation, it’s a clear analogy. It’s far too early for me to advise any plans but rest assured I am only supportive of IoTaWatt and any anything it leads to.

I take the point on what is involved in a commercial product and the quality you have targetted. Keep up the good work.

I just saw this thread. I have been in the process of creating IoTaWatt derived hardware for my personal use and experimentation, but also opening it up on github. I named it IoTaWatt Homebrew as this seemed in line with your expectations in the other thread.

You will find everything at:

I named it IoTaWattHB as writing homebrew was a bit long in text to fit on the PCB. I really want to conform to whatever you think should go for the licensing. I wont ever sell these and am not aiming to create anything for production it more a case of me documenting my work as part of learning more about building something and making everything available on github.

Please let me know if you have anything you want me to change.

@overeasy offered no legal advice (and neither do I) but refered to the Arduino site which gives some guidance: What should I call my boards?

Relevant places in are Lines 189-191:

<text x="27.2" y="68.1" size="3.81" layer="121" rot="R90">IoTaWatt</text>
<text x="22.9" y="90.8" size="1.27" layer="121" rot="R90">tm</text>
<text x="22.2" y="66.8" size="1.6764" layer="121" rot="R90">genuine</text>

Maybe change the three lines to something like:

<text x="23.2" y="68.1" size="2.75" layer="121" rot="R90">IoTaWatt</text>
<text x="20.5" y="85.8" size="0.92" layer="121" rot="R90">tm</text>
<text x="27.2" y="68.1" size="2.75" layer="121" rot="R90">compatible</text>

Alternatively the attribution might sit better at Line 185 replacing:

<text x="29.4" y="111.5" size="2.54" layer="121" rot="SR180">Rev 4.4</text>

Check the license about releasing the modified file(s).