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I would like to know how I can identify a fake or counterfeit Arduino board. For example this product, which is shown below.

enter image description here

I am concerned that it is cheap (about $12 when converted) and I was wondering if it is like a 'legal cheap version' or is it an unauthentic one? If it is not authentic, would it be legal to purchase it?

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  • I have edited your question to make it a bit more generic, in line with the answers already received. I left the portion about legality of purchase but this is likely off-topic and too dependent on jurisdiction. – David Nov 28 '14 at 12:56
  • Arduino mainly have a trademark to protect themselves and this seems to be in violation of that.. Possessing / using it shouldn't get you in trouble, but selling them is a bad idea... (Selling an Arduino-based device with just the name / logos changed is perfectly legal, but it goes against the spirit of Open Hardware) – Gert van den Berg Nov 28 '14 at 14:13
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It looks like an R3 Uno, but then pictures can be misleading.

However:

  • Arduino is open source - anyone can make one
  • Because of that there are many many "clones" of the Arduino
  • A clone, as long as it's got the right circuitry (and an Arduino is incredibly simple) is as good as the "real thing".

The only problem Arduino have with clones is the use of the Arduino name and logo. IIRC they don't mind you claiming "Arduino Compatible", but trying to be an Arduino they don't much like.

If it's just their reference designs re-printed (which you can download for free from the Arduino Uno web page) and no further design work has been done, then although it isn't made in Italy by Arduino, it's still an Arduino.

That's the beauty / curse of open source - anyone can make one.

However, that specific one looks like it fits into the "claiming to be an Arduino" category. It uses Arduino artwork and logos, and tries to make it look like it's an Arduino made by Arduino in Italy, when in fact it isn't. Legally speaking, they are ripping off the Arduino brand. Practically speaking, since it's all open source, the actual device (assuming the components aren't counterfeit) should be perfectly fine.

If they were to change the artwork, so it didn't look quite so much like an Arduino, and had something like "Arduino Uno Compatible" on it, then it would be categorized as a clone, and would be fine - you'd know where you were standing. As it is though, the artwork on it is breaking copyright laws.

The image shown is too low quality to give much information about it, but the two big pointers that it's not made by Arduino are:

  • The PCB is too blue (real Arduinos are teal)
  • The polyfuse is the wrong colour (green instead of grey/gold)
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  • And there is no guarantee that the parts on the board aren't counterfeit and you might get burned in some other way, e.g. the recent FTDI driver issues. – David Nov 28 '14 at 11:33
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    @David FTDI hasn't been used on Arduino boards for a number of years now. They all use an ATMega8U2 or similar programmed with CDC/ACM. – Majenko Nov 28 '14 at 12:02
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    I think it's important to point out that as this board appears to use Arduino logo and branding it is not an "Arduino Clone" it is a "Counterfeit Arduino". – akellyirl Nov 28 '14 at 12:02
  • @akellyirl I was actually doing that while you posted that comment ;) – Majenko Nov 28 '14 at 12:09
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    Purchasing it isn't illegal (AFAIK, IANAL), but selling it is (AFAIK, IANAL). – Majenko Nov 29 '14 at 10:46
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No, it's a counterfeit. See here - particularly the 'components' section:
http://arduino.cc/en/Products/Counterfeit

Also, as far as I'm aware, Arduino boards are not produced in China but in Italy.

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