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Kickstarter, Trademarks and Lies

Massimo BanziNovember 26th, 2012


We had to disable comments because the discussion was turning into a flame war.

Just a few clarifications: Arduino is not suing anybody. We never intended to do that in the slightest. We love Kickstarter and , as I said in the post, we think they are important to Makers. We are now in contact with Kickstarter to make sure that in the future the communication between us are more direct and clear. Our manufacturing partner in Italy has issues with some statements made in the Kickstarter campaign and they are getting in touch directly with the project creator to clear the situation.

—- original post —–

Kickstarter has undoubtedly changed the world by helping makers turn into anĀ  industry to be reckoned with.
As with every brilliant invention the first prototypes always have a few issues that get fixed over time by trial and error. Figuring out a way to respond to issues and criticism quickly and effectively is the essence of growth and Kickstarter definitiely had done a lot but there is still a number of issues that are hard to deal with.

I want to show you an example of something that is happening to us right now.

A few weeks ago somebody launched a kickstarter for a project called smARtDUINO (notice the choice of lowercase/uppercase letters) that is supposed to be a better Arduino and all the rest. There is one of them every week so nothing new there.

The first issue that struck me was that right in the project title they claim to be the “former ARDUINO’s manufacturer”

Since I’ve never heard of this person I’ve emailed immediately the factory asking if they knew him.
Nobody had ever heard of him, then a long search started that ended with the realisation that he hired two factory workers who used to work for one of the many suppliers that our manufacturing partner uses.

So according to them, if I hire two factory workers from Ford I can claim I used to manufacture Ford cars…

When we got an email from an important worldwide reseller asking us if our manufacturing partner was behind this kickstarter, we really got worried that the confusion was going to create serious damages to us and decided to act.

We asked our lawyer in Italy to get in touch with this person to have some statements rectified while I got in touch with Kickstarter to see if they could act as a mediator in the dispute.

Based on the current available information, it seems that the company that owns the domain (Aldi Technology) doesn’t exist and the person who launched the kickstarter, who claims to be living in Italy (Mr. Dimitri Albino), actually moved to china years ago.

Italian speakers will find some old forum messages linking this person to some dubious activity.

Every week there is a kicstarter where, in a a way or another, somebody claims to be us… Either they call their project “Arduino” straight away or they ride the Arduino name in more clever ways. We usually email them but not all respond etc etc.

I wrote to kickstarter throught their public feedback form and emailed directly to somebody in marketing I had contact with in the past.

My point was that Kickstarter have to provide some kind of assistance when there are trademark violations or when somebody makes false statements.
Like many important websites have a clear and direct way to raise issues of trademark violations, Kickstarter should also make it easy to raise issues with them.

I got no reply from the marketing person and the next day I get this :
“Hi Massimo,

Thanks for writing in and bringing this to our attention. This is a matter that must be taken up directly with the project creator. You can contact them by clicking “Contact me” on the project page.


Well I don’t think Kickstarter can remove themselves from the picture, they are not a charity, they make money out of what they do. They should protect their users by better vetting who wants to be funded and by making it easier to raise issues about individual kicstarters.

What does the community think?