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Thread: Doing business

  1. #1
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    Doing business

    I would like to build a commercial device containing a teensy and would like to know the following:
    a. Is there a license or cost involved for including teensy in my device?
    b. How does one protect their device from being copied? I suppose PJRC does not do pcb fabrication and assembly. How do you guys do it?
    c. I see that adafruit also sells teensy. Are they resellers or have you sold them rights to reproduce it?

  2. #2
    Senior Member MickMad's Avatar
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    I can't answer for a), but:
    b) don't put on your gerber files on the web. you may also not want to put out schematics, but even if one can copy a device from a schematic, he/she won't be able to copy the layout (unless someone reverse engineers your layout)
    c)I think they're resellers

  3. #3
    Senior Member+ Theremingenieur's Avatar
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    The Teensy units have all two chips on board. The one is the main processor and the other is a MKL02 or MKL04 sub-processor with burnt-in firmware which handles the uploading of new code into and the reset of the main processor (and which makes the difference between a random Kinetis CPU and a Teensy). When you buy such a Teensy board either directly from PJRC or from an authorized reseller, you might use it in commercial projects without paying additional royalties. PJRC has a nearby contract manufacturer for PCB production and assembly.

    Same for the libraries which come with the Teensyduino s/w plugin for the Arduino IDE. These are under a MIT license or similar which does not exclude commercial use as long as you respect a few things which are documented in the first lines of the central library .h file.

    Copy protection is simple for PJRC. Without the MKL02/04 chip and its burnt-in firmware (production secret), a Teensy is not a Teensy. PJRC as relatively liberal. That means that you can do own PCBs and even buy the main CPU elsewhere and assemble all on your own (schematics are available on the PJRC website), but you need to buy the pre-programmed MKL02/04 chips from them. To protect Teensy projects from being copied (if they aren't open source), there are ways to lock your software from being read out of the Teensy.

  4. #4
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    Yes, you can embed Teensy inside your product and sell it. There's no extra license fee, beyond the price paid for the Teensy board. Likewise, you can buy the bootloader chip and its price is effectively the license to make your board fully Teensy compatible.

    You can also make your own board without anything from PJRC, and still use the open source code we've published. Of course, you'll need to do *something* to get your program onto the MK20 chip. Programmers from P&E Micro, chip programming service offered by some distributors, or buying just 1 bootloader chip and making your own "programmer" which unplugs after you test your board are the popular approaches.

    Almost all the open source code is MIT license, which gives you the most flexibility. But some Arduino libraries are GPL, so if you use libraries (as almost all projects do), check their license info. Usually that means having to read the headers in the source code.

    The name "Teensy" is a registered trademark. You can't call your product "Teensy" or anything that would be confusingly similar. If you use an actual Teensy board as a component, it's ok to say you have Teensy inside or powered by Teensy or similar language. You'll probably want to give your product a distinctive name anyway.

  5. #5
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    Re not being copied probably the low hanging fruit is setting some mixture of the security bits on the Teensy, RTM if doing so since bricking things is a feature not a bug for some of them. Various other layers can be done as well but always weigh up the costs of increasing security and potentially being beaten to market and/or having a security feature burn customers in some way against the cost of being cloned (and if the cloner could write new code more easily)

    One thing that is worth thinking about is making sure you can identify at least production run number of whatever you ship (preferably separately for firmware and hardware) since this helps identify lots of things both accidental and hostile action and is something that is best done before anything goes out the door.
    https://www.sparkfun.com/news/1575

  6. #6
    another consideration is, and i'm still not 100% sure, if you use an open source project within your own project then by association your project becomes opensource. now, i have had two intellectual property lawyers tell me this is the case and i've read many opinions that it is not the case. so i'm glad this topic has come up because i think there are some folks in the forum who may know a bit about it. anyway, what i have been told is, if i use someones opensource code then i have to opensource the code in which i used the open source code of another. i think it is dependent on what license the code you used is listed under.

  7. #7
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    @dryder
    See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIT_License
    and
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Ge...Public_License
    Others can probably provide a more complete answer but I'd say the lawyers gave the safe answer that is not wrong, but also not right in a way that may make a big difference to a business trying to succeed.

  8. #8
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    Of course you should take the advice from your attorney. One fairly simple thing you can do to improve the quality of their advice (and perhaps lower the cost) is collect up the specific open source licenses, so they are giving you advice based on the actual terms, rather than generic advice based on terms they don't actually have in front of them.

    There's a huge difference in terms between licenses like MIT vs GPL. I'm going to refrain from offering any archair-lawyer opinion, other that this simple "do your homework" suggestion before talking to your attorney.

  9. #9
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    Thank you all for your replies.
    You have been most helpful and prompt.
    PJRC keep up the good work.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panos View Post
    Thank you all for your replies.
    You have been most helpful and prompt.
    PJRC keep up the good work.
    Yeah I was wondering about the copy protection! Thanks

  11. #11
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    I would say that the best thing is what is called "security by obscurity".
    i.e. keep a component or piece of code secret.

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