This page outlining the requirements for the Certification serves two purposes. First, it is an introduction to the certification process itself.  Second, it is part of the certification license and includes important information about expectations for users of the certification.

Overview

The Open Source Hardware Association Certification was created in response to overwhelming demand for a clearer and more transparent method of identifying and marketing open source hardware products. The purpose of this certification is to provide an easy and straightforward way for producers to indicate that their products meet a uniform and well-defined standard for open-source compliance, benefiting both creators and consumers of these products.   By meeting the requirements for self-certification and completing the process described below, producers may use the Open Source Hardware Certification logo on any open source hardware product.

Process

Any producer may self-certify at any time that their products meet the requirements for an Open Source Hardware Association Certification. In order to do this, the certifying party must submit a completed Certification Mark License Agreement by completing the process here. Completing this process signifies that the certifying party meets the requirements outlined in this document and binds the certifying party to follow the Certification Mark Usage Guidelines. A list of all certified producers will be made available on the OSHWA website here.

Term of Certification

The self-certification and license will be in effect for one year from the date of confirmed approval by the Open Source Hardware Association. At the end of every year following certification, OSHWA will send an email request to the certified party asking if they intend to renew the certification. The certified party must reaffirm its compliance with the program rules and its intention to continue in order to retain certification.  

Requirements

In order to meet the requirements for Open Source Hardware Self-Certification, creators must:

  1. Create products that comply with the community written open source hardware definition hosted by OSHWA.
  2. Ensure that all of the creator’s own contributions to an open source product using the certification mark are shared as open source in accordance with the agreement and these requirements.
  3. Ensure all parts within the creator’s control are open source. Use best efforts to distinguish any third-party proprietary components. Third-party components such as chips must have fully accessible and shareable datasheets for hardware to be considered open source.
  4. Self-certify each project into the program by completing the online license form and responding to yearly renewal requests.
  5. Register with OSHWA each unique product bearing the Certification Mark, and otherwise abide by the usage guidelines.

The “Creator Contribution” Requirement

As noted above, in order to be certified under this program all parts, designs, code, and rights under the control of the creator must be made open according to the open source hardware definition hosted by OSHWA.  However, that does not necessarily mean that the entire project must or will be open source.  If the creators used third party closed components outside of their control, they are unable – and are therefore not required – to open souce those components.  While it is strongly prefered to use open components when possible, OSHWA recognizes the reality that this is not always possible.  The “creator contribution” requirement is an intentionally flexible one, designed to be applicable to individuals working alone and multinational corporations.

Versions

As part of the certification process, the creator must submit links to all relevant documentation related to the project or product.  However, as projects and products evolve, that documentation must be updated as well.  As this evolution occurs, OSHWA encourages creators to submit new versions of the product and product documentation for certification instead of simply replacing old documentation with new documentation. This will allow users of older versions of projects or products to find relevant documentation while still allowing products and projects to evolve.  For clarity, this means that each version of a project or product will have a unique certification registration code which will correspond with documentation specific to that version.  At this time, OSHWA defers to the best judgment of creators to determine when changes have become substantial enough to justify a new version and new registration.

Enforcement

To encourage use of the certification and safeguard good-faith users of the certification mark, OSHWA’s enforcement policy is designed to make it easy for certifying parties to maintain compliance or withdraw from certification without fine or forfeiture. Persistent violators, however, will be subject to increasing penalties.  Note that in many cases, good faith actors can avoid penalty merely by removing the certification mark from their product.

While OSHWA may institute an investigation into an alleged violation at any time, the primary mechanism for detecting violations of the Open Source Hardware Certification will be community reporting. Any party detecting an alleged violation can submit a complaint to certification@oshwa.org and OSHWA may, at its discretion, conduct an investigation.

At the outset of the investigation, OSHWA will send a notice to the certified party detailing the alleged violations. The certified party may then dispute the charge, cure the violation, or withdraw from certification. If the certified party disputes the charge the timeline for enforcement will begin when OSHWA makes its final determination that a violation has occurred and sends the notice of its final determination to the certified party. Otherwise, the penalties for enforcement may be determined as described in this chart, which summarizes the penalties established in the license agreement.

 

Stage Event Action by OSHWA Action by Certified Party Penalty
1 OSHWA receives complaint about an alleged violation OSHWA institutes an investigation into the violation and sends first notice to third party about alleged violations Certified Party must cure violation, dispute the charge, or withdraw from certification and cease use of the Mark None
2 Certified party has not completed stage 1 action within 90 days of first notice OSHWA sends second notice to certified party about alleged violations Certified Party must cure violation or withdraw from certification and cease use of the Mark None
3 Certified party has not completed stage 2 action within 120 days of first notice OSHWA sends “third notice” to certified party about alleged violations and posts certified party’s name to a list of noncompliant parties on OSHWA’s website Certified Party must cure violation or withdraw from certification and cease use of the Mark Certified Party’s name is listed on OSHWA’s website as a noncompliant party
4 Certified party has not completed stage 3 action within 180 days of first notice OSHWA imposes monthly fine for noncompliance Certified Party must cure violation or withdraw from certification and cease use of the Mark Monthly fines of up to $500/month until compliance is achieved
5 Certified party has not completed stage 4 action within one year of first notice OSHWA increases monthly fine for noncompliance Certified Party must cure violation or withdraw from certification and cease use of the Mark Monthly fines of up to $1,000/month until compliance is achieved
6 Certified party has not completed stage 5 action within two years of first notice OSHWA increases monthly fine for noncompliance Certified Party must cure violation or withdraw from certification and cease use of the Mark Monthly fines of up to $10,000/month until compliance is achieved
7 Certified party has not completed stage 6 action within two years of first notice OSHWA terminates certification mark agreement No further action admitted Certified Party is in material breach of the Certification Agreement and is now liable for infringement