You can read about the history of the certification process and read the public documents and discussion here.

Q. Why is OSHWA doing this?

The Community had raised concerns that the term “open source hardware” was being used to mean different things by different people.  The certification is designed to identify projects that compliant with the community definition of open source hardware.

Q. What does the certification do?

The certification creates a legally binding and unique logo that can only be used by projects that comply with the community definition of open source hardware.  It allows users to know that the definition of “open source hardware” used by a specific project matches the community definition.  The OSHWA certification mark can only be used by projects that comply with the community definition.

Q. What doesn’t the certification do?

The certification does not limit how people can use the term “open source hardware” or the open gear logo.  It has no impact on anyone who interprets “open source hardware” to mean something different than the community definition, nor does it prevent those people from continuing to use the gear logo.

Q. How does the certification logo related to the open gear logo?

The two logos are compatible and can be used together.  The certification logo is designed to compliment the existing open gear logo.  The open gear logo has been incredibly successful in raising awareness of open source hardware.  However, people have used it to represent a number of different interpretations of what it means to be open source hardware.  The certification logo on a piece of hardware means that the hardware complies with the community definition of open source hardware maintained by OSHWA.

Q. Do I register every project?

Yes.  The certification works on a per-project basis.  OSHWA does not certify individuals, companies, or organizations as open source hardware.

Q. What happens when I have a new version of the project?

You must register each new version of a certified project. This is because the documentation for the new versions will be somewhat different from documentation from previous projects.  Registering subsequent versions allows users to track documentation that is relevant to their version of the project.  At this time, OSHWA defers you license holders to determine when a set of changes become substantial enough to justify re-registration. As a rule of thumb, re-registration should occur if the documentation for the existing registration would no longer be complete for the current release.

Q. What happens if I want to remove my project from the registry and/or stop using the certification mark?

You may stop using the certification mark at any time.  However, you may not remove a project from the registry.  This is because users of the registered project may still rely on the information in the registry to access documentation and other relevant information.

Q. How much does it cost to register?

Registration is free.

Q. Can I certify a project before it is publicly launched?

The short answer is yes. You will need to provide links to the final final documentation that you will make available at launch.  Email certification@oshwa.org for details in order to work this out.

Q: What if I have a question not addressed by this FAQ?

Email certification@oshwa.org and we’ll do our best to get you an answer.