I've been hearing a lot about clones and counterfeits. What are the differences between the two?

  • 2
    Price is the main difference.
    – jippie
    Feb 19, 2014 at 6:50
  • and quality is another issue
    – Sonali_B
    Jul 28, 2017 at 11:38

2 Answers 2


The difference is simple:

Clones don't say "Arduino," where counterfeits do

If I were to create 200 boards all labeled "Arduino UNO R3," it would be a counterfeit. If I were to call them "Happyduino," it would be a clone.

Note: You can still write Happyduino (Arduino Compatible) on your product. Here's a quote from the Arduino FAQ section

Not okay:

  • Arduino Xxxxxx
  • Xxxxxx Arduino
  • Arduino Compatible Xxxxxx - use "Xxxxxx (Arduino-Compatible)" instead


  • Xxxxxx for Arduino - products that work with official Arduino boards (e.g. shields or kits)
  • Xxxxxx (Arduino-Compatible) - variations and clones which are software and hardware compatible

Note that while we don't attempt to restrict uses of the "duino" suffix, its use causes the Italians on the team to cringe (apparently it sounds terrible); you might want to avoid it. (It's also trademarked by a Hungarian company.)

  • I have a "Arduino" lying in front of me and it definitely a cheap clone. Nothing hints that it is not the original thing other than visual aspects as layout/color/silk screen font/... (and the brand name in a tiny print in a corner of the PCB)
    – jippie
    Feb 19, 2014 at 6:46
  • I understand the "Happy" part, but I guess I miss the point you're trying to make.
    – jippie
    Feb 20, 2014 at 5:54
  • 2
    @jippie what he's saying is, you can use the "duino" in your naming structure without trademark/copyright issues, so Happyduino is ok, but the word Arduino itself is not, except as detailed with "for Arduino" or "Arduino compatible"
    – Madivad
    Feb 27, 2014 at 5:25
  • 1
    I guess one key point is that if they say "Arduino" very directly in the name, they are giving the impression to the customer that it was actually made by Arduino, with the quality assurance that that would imply. But if you stick the word "Arduino" off in a phrase AFTER the title, or if they only use the "duino" suffix, then it is clear to the customer that this is made by a third company that is only promising that it will work compatibly with the original Arduinos. Makes me glad- I am about to buy a few inexpensive chinese MEGAs and they are honest about it, so no guilt for me. Feb 14, 2018 at 3:19

A clone is an exact or almost exact replica of an original Arduino board, with a different branding.

A derivative is a board based or inspired by Arduino boards, with some specific addition or modification (different layouts, built-in sensors...)

A counterfeit is a clone of an Arduino board, with the same branding of an Arduino board.

More info on an article on the Arduino blog.

  • So is there a difference in the functionality? Mar 7, 2014 at 0:22
  • A counterfeit will strive to give the very same functionality. As for clones and derivatives, I think it depends on manufacturer's choice. Mar 7, 2014 at 8:13
  • Quality of the passive components (such as reset buttons that stick), poor/cold soldering that fails, misaligned connectors, etc are the hallmarks of counterfeits.
    – Ron J.
    Mar 11, 2014 at 13:20

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