Mapping the legal side of OSH


Hello everyone

This post is verry long over due so sincere apologies to all
(Life and Love got in the way)
I had promised to write a brief legal guide to issues relevant for the OSH hardware community and have not yet gotton round to do this. I am putting time aside now to hopefully have it finished before the next summit but I need your help !

What are questions and/or issues you have and/or would like this guide to adress ?

I cannot promise to cover or answer them all (havn’t mastered the science of cloning yet) but over time we may be able to provide a useful and practical document that will at least help answer the basic and most burning questions we may come across in our projects and work.

So the usual suspects are

  • intellectual property rights, certification and licensing ( so copyright, patents, trademark and design rights, trade secrets)
  • consumer protection law
  • competition law
  • privacy and dataprotection ?
  • security ?


Looking forward to your comments and feedback
also if you think this is useless or great and want to help out, have relevant documentation and most welcome experiences and tips and tricks from the ground (as I alas as of lately spend most of my time in my lonely ivory tower)




I’m interested in legal restrictions on making things open source. The example that comes to mind is using software-defined radio to implement Wi-Fi standards. For proprietary Hardware I’ve read that making drivers open source has been prohibited by the US government because users could modify the software to exceed the legal power limits for transmission. I would expect the same problems to arise in a completely open hardware implementation. I’m curious if these limits on making things open actually exist and what other examples there are of this sort of thing.


We are having a similar dialogue in the REMODEL Expert Panel. My take is that there is a big gap between the everyday practice, which is underdeveloped, of OSH and the very complex legal matters. I am thinking along the lines of developing a simple visual that would help as a first step in navigating the legal maze. Similar to what CC offers on their website.

Is this the type of response your are looking for?


Thanks Diderik,

Yes I think it would be good to start with some basic guidance mapping the different aspects and making everyone aware of what issues may come up, without it being full blown legal advice (which isnt the idea or possible given national differences)

would you like to work on this together ? See if we can get a first draft together to present and discuss at GOSH ?




Hi Freyja,
Your good start suggestion sounds great! With “at GOSH” do you mean at the GOSH forum or in Shenzhen? :smile:
Be great!


Hi Diderik,

Damnit I missed the application for GOSH…how did that happen !? I must have missed the mailing or it got lost in my inbox !?

No I am going to the summit…I must have confused the two :frowning:

Can’t believe Im going to miss GOSH this year as I have no budget to go given that my PhD budget is next to nothing…hmmm there is still some time to be creative if you have any tips where I could apply for some funding because the idea was to present it at GOSH

anyway Ill keep you posted



About – 2018 Open Source Hardware Summit
The Open Hardware Summit is the annual conference organized by the Open Source Hardware Association a 501©(3) not for profit charity. It is the world’s first comprehensive conference on open hardware; a venue and community in which we discuss and draw attention to the rapidly growing Open Source Hardware movement.


Hi Freyja,

Oh, too bad! Alright, keep me posted then. I suspect that some people of the REMODEL Expert Panel (of Danish Design Center) might also be interested in co-designing the map.

All the best,


Freyja, perhaps create a proposal for this conference?