Arduino LLC AKA Genuino Outside US and Arduino SRL (Italian Version of LLC) Will Just Be Arduino Holding at the End of 2016.
Makers attending the World Maker Faire in New York on October 1st, 2016 witnessed a pivotal moment in the history of Arduino as the two entities laying claim to the name Arduino agreed to resolve their differences and merge under a single brand. This is welcome news for many in the Maker community as it goes a long way toward removing a cloud of uncertainty over the future of the popular open-source project. Fittingly, Arduino LLC (Arduino.cc) co-founder Massimo Banzi joined Arduino Srl (the Italian version of an LLC) CEO Fredrico Musto on stage in a show of unity to make the announcement at an event dedicated to Makers from around the world.
Competing visions for the future of the open hardware project Arduino led to two rival entities staking claim to the Arduino name for the past three years. Presently, both Arduino groups use similarly-designed websites to sell Arduino products and both carry the official Arduino logo. Arduino LLC sued Arduino Srl (the Italian version of an LLC) in January 2015 which was predated by an earlier trademark action filed Arduino SRL against Arduino LLC on October 3rd 2014. In May of 2015 "Genuino" was created around the world as another trademark held by Arduino LLC to operate as Arduino LLC's brand outside the US.
The Origins of Arduino
Understanding what caused the schism divide between the founders of Arduino requires understanding a bit about the background leading to the Arduino Open Source Foundation. In 2004, Hermando Barragan, under Supervision of Massimo Banzi and Casey Reas, created the Wiring development platform as his Masters Thesis project at Interaction Design Institute Ivrea (IDII) in Ivrea, Italy. Hermando Barragon would later publish The Untold History of Arduino, a worthy read that helps give a balanced account of the early days leading up to Arduino. For the thesis, the goal was to create low cost, simple tools that allowed non-engineers to make digital projects. The platform recalls what would eventually be Arduino as it consisted of PCB with an ATmega168 microcontroller, an IDE based on Processing and library functions to easily program the microcontroller.
In 2005, Massimo and David Mellis(then an IDII student) forked (a practice synonymous with Open Source) the Wiring source code and added support for the cheaper ATmega8 microcontroller to Wiring and started running it as a separate project called Arduino. The name Arduino came from a bar in Ivrea where some of the founders of the project use to meet. The initial Arduino team consisted of Massimo Banzi, David Cuarielles, Tom Igoe, Gianluca Martino, and David Mellis. After the Wiring Platform was completed, lighter and lower cost versions were made available to the open-source community with David Cuartielles being among the associated researchers promoting the idea.
Massimo Banzi presents an Oral History of Arduino for the Computer History Museum. Recorded on 5-12-15 in Mountain View, California Mr. Banzi also discusses differences between the US and European Communities, STEM education, the Maker movement, building an open source community, and hopes for the future.
In early 2008, the five cofounders of the Arduino project came together to create a company called Arduino LLC in order to hold trademarks associated with Arduino. Manufacture and sale of the hardware would be done by external companies, with Arduino LLC receiving royalties from them. The founding bylaws of Arduino LLC specified that each for the five founders were transfer ownership of the Arduino brand to the newly formed company. Unbeknownst to the rest of the group, Gianluca Martino's company, Smart Project, along with Microsoft, registered the Arduino project in Italy and kept it secret from the other cofounders for about two years.
Meanwhile, the Arduino company only registered the Arduino trademark in the US and it was only when attempting to trademark in other areas of the world that the other cofounders found out what had happened. In 2014, Smart Projects began refusing royalties and then appointed a new CEO, Mr. Musto, who renamed the company Arduino SRL and created a website under arduino.org that lifted graphics and layout from the original Arduino.cc. In May 2015, Arduino created the trademark "Genuino" around the world and currently uses it as the brand name for Arduino LLC outside of the US.
Word is that the rift between the two Arduino groups began because Banzi, Cuarielles, Igoe, and Mellis wanted to internationalize the brand and license production to other firms freely whereas Martino and Musto wanted to list on the stock market and restrict all production to the Italian Factory. There's no doubt that Martino and Musto had a vested interest in keeping production limited to Italy. Arduino LLC has since partnered with Intel on the Galileo and more recently partnered with BeagleBoard.org on the forthcoming Arduino TRE. Arduino SRL on the other hand, kept things in-house when they partnered with dog hunter for the Arduino YU.
Of course we'll learn more about what caused the schism between the Arduino groups and how they were able to resolve their differences now that they have kissed and made up.