Widespread abuse of "Open Source Hardware" term, and the OSHWA logo


Is anyone else concerned about the widespread misuse of the terms “Open Source Hardware”, and also the OSHWA gear logo?

The majority of companies I see in the low-cost 3D printer area, a market that appeals to the new breed of “makers”, call their hardware Open Source, but is almost invariably licensed as CC-BY-NC. There is also several companies (sometimes individuals) incorporating the OSHWA gear logo, and their products are not even Open Source.

I’ve found examples of misuse in other areas too.

Really, something needs to be done, otherwise “Open Source Hardware” will lose all meaning (and worse, be replaced by CC-BY-NC).

This would seem to have negative impacts for OSI as well, where generally Open Source Software is well understood, and who also have a trademark sharing(?) agreement with OSHWA.


I am certainly concerned. Most users will probably first come in contact with OSHW through a project that (mis)uses the definition, trademark and term. Depending on the adherence (or lack thereof) to the definition of OSHW, the user might get the impression that OSHW has little to no merit or real world impact. This will then discourage participation, activism and pride in using OSHW over propertiary HW.
I understand it is a touchy subject. But I believe it needs ‘enforcement’, starting with sending a friendly reminder to read the definition and take steps to ensure compliance or remove the trademark and malliscious claims. It is also misleading advertisement. The later is a seperate ethical if not legal infringement.
I believe in self certification, it means certification is accessible. But with self certification the importance of regulating the practise increases. Measures like handling complaints, reviewing projects, informing users or similar could probably be low effort but effective.