USB Standards Organization vs. Open Source


    One of the main problems for amateurs and small companies selling hardware with a USB port today is the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), an organization that develops specifications for the USB bus; companies like Intel, Microsoft, and Hewlett-Packard are taking part in it.

    The essence of this problem is as follows. Each USB device sold requires certification for USB compliance, for which it needs to have a vendor ID (vendor ID, VID) and product ID (product ID, PID). Large amateur market players like Sparkfun or Adafruit- have long paid USB-IF for receiving USB VID; the trouble is that any craftsman who made a USB device in his garage and hopes to sell it - even if it sells by the force of a dozen or a hundred pieces - also has to pay for it.

    As a solution to this problem, Arachnid Labs suggested an interesting idea: since individual USB device manufacturers (like Microchip or FTDI) give out a number of their USB PIDs for free, you could create your own non-profit organization that would buy one VID and give out PIDs to its members engaged in the development of open hardware. As a result, many devices made by amateurs would receive the status of USB-compatible.

    But such an idea did not like VTM Group - the company involved in the management, PR and legal aspects of USB-IF. All correspondence can be read on the Arachnid Labs website , proposals for creating VID for open source did not even reach USB-IF participants directly involved in issuing IDs, but the VTM Group company responded with the following not very pleasant request:

    Please immediately stop raising funds for the purchase of a unique USB VID for the purpose of transferring, reselling or licensing its associated PIDs, and remove all references to USB-IF, VIDs and PIDs that allow you to do this from your site and from other places.

    The community still has ways to work around the VTM Group solution - for example, to continue to “hide” behind USB VID 0xF055 - but the lack of open PIDs forces Arachnid Labs to look for new ways to get them legally - now they are going to try to reach people directly from HP, Intel, and Microsoft working in USB-IF.

    Source: , , hackernews .

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