About OSHWA Certification

The Open Source Hardware Certification Program is operated by the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA). OSHWA is a nonprofit organization that aims to foster technological knowledge and encourage research that is accessible, collaborative and respects user freedom.

The certification program exists to make it easy for creators and users to identify hardware that follows the community definition of open source hardware maintained by OSHWA. Hardware projects that display the certification logo are licensed and documented in a way that makes it easy for users to use and build upon them.

The certification has been developed by OSHWA and the open source hardware community as part of a multi-year process. Some of the important milestones in that process are described and linked to below:

Version 1

On June 2, 2015 OSHWA posted the first announcement about the planned certification, asking the community for input.

That same day, a longer road map with a timeline, overview, and questions for the community appeared.  The road map ended with ten questions about various aspects of the certification and a request for the community to discuss them in the OSHWA forums.

After a summer of discussion, on September 19, 2015 OSHWA announced the first version of the certification.  This document explained how the certification would work and how the community had resolved the various questions discussed over the summer.

The announcement kicked off a new round of discussion within the open source hardware community.  On September 24, 2015 OSWHA posted a second post explaining what it was – and was not – trying to accomplish with the certification.

With the certification specification completed, work then turned to converting the specification into a binding legal agreement and functional system.  OSHWA worked closely with the Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic at Stanford Law School on the formal legal agreements that would give structure to the certification.

On March 17, 2016 OSHWA requested comment on the certification logo itself.  Various marks were proposed and discussed in the comments.

On May 6, 2016 OSHWA sent a survey to OSHWA members requesting their comment on a narrowed down set of possible certification marks.

OSHWA announced the final logo on June 6, 2016.  A month later, on July 13, 2016, the logo usage guideline was posted.

On October 7, 2016 at the 2016 Open Hardware Summit, the certification officially went live. The first month’s worth of certified projects were randomly sorted and on November 7, 2016 the certification IDs and directory went live.

With the help of the Stanford clinic, OSHWA obtained a registered trademark in the certification logo in July 2018.

OSHWA also revoked certification for the first time in August of 2018 because the documentation for a certified project was no longer available.

Version 2

Based on community feedback, OSHWA began working on a second version of the certification site in late 2017. There were two primary goals of the second version. First, OSHWA aimed to consolidate information about creating open source hardware that had been developed over the years in a single, coherent location. Second, OSHWA wanted to provide additional guidance around open source hardware licensing questions.

OSHWA worked with the Technology Law and Policy Clinic at NYU Law to begin developing content for the new site and Objectively to think through how to best present the information. A grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation allowed OSHWA to announce work on a new version of the site on March 21, 2018.

Exploded toaster diagram by Jeffrey Warren and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

In keeping with tradition, the new version of the certification website was announced at the Open Hardware Summit on September 27, 2018.