UPDATED: Check out this video of the first UNO made in the USA, which now belongs to Massimo Banzi!
With all the controversy swirling around the legal battle between Arduino LLC (hereafter referred to simply as 'Arduino', for simplicity's sake) and Smart Projects, many have hinted at the major problems faced by Massimo Banzi and the Arduino founders. Since their manufacturing arm has been severed, they have scrambled to keep the company in the black, all the while attempting to fight what will surely become a major legal battle. Though there have only been hints, we can take an educated guess at the damage this has caused Arduino's bottom line – some have gone so far as to say that it could lead to the collapse of the company as we know it.
However, this weekend at Maker Faire, it seems that Banzi and the team at Arduino were thrown the life raft they so desperately needed – Adafruit, one of the biggest companies in the 'Maker' scene, has signed a contact to become Arduino's manufacturer. What this means, from what we have heard so far, is that Adafruit will manufacture all the official Arduino boards under license from Arduino – what remains to be seen, and what is on everyone's mind, is whether Smart Projects will try and block this development legally.
For those not in the loop, I would recommend checking out this Hackaday article, and also this follow-up. To break it down in simple terms, one of the original founders of Arduino started a company called Smart Projects to handle the manufacturing arm of the business. All the boards are made by Smart Projects under license from Arduino (check out the photo of the insert from my Arduino Due box). However, it is alleged that in 2008 the founder who created Smart Projects secretly registered the Arduino trademark in Italy – which the Arduino team didn't discover until they attempted to register the trademark elsewhere in the world. Arduino then discovered that Smart Projects had registered the trademark and attempted to negotiate a happy ending for everyone, but were unsuccessful – now Smart Projects continues to manufacture the boards but refuses to pay the royalty due under the original license. Smart Projects then renamed their company to Arduino SRL, and registered the domain arduino.org – leading to some mass confusion among supporters, as the websites look identical. This has lead to the aforementioned lack of funds and the increasingly desperate situation for Arduino LLC.
Adafruit, among many other electronics distributors, declared their support of the original group of founders under the Arduino LLC name, and now have thrown their not-unsubstantial weight behind that declaration. This is almost certainly the boost that they needed to push forward with the legal battle. With this announcement comes many more questions – how will consumers know which company they are supporting? Who will carry which version of which Arduino product? Will Adafruit be able to support the mass manufacturing needed to keep up with demand? It will be very interesting to see how this all turns out.
I am very curious to hear which side the community supports – please leave your comments and ideas below!