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Maybe (and open-source hardware definitely isn't for everyone).  Our experience, however, has shown that it's possible for open-source hardware to be commercially successful despite its openness.  There are many reasons for this.
 
Maybe (and open-source hardware definitely isn't for everyone).  Our experience, however, has shown that it's possible for open-source hardware to be commercially successful despite its openness.  There are many reasons for this.
  
For one thing, even with access to a product's design, it's not trivial for someone else to make and sell it.  They need to source components, manufacture and assemble parts, test for quality, establish distribution channels, and more.  If you're already offering the product at a fair price, there's not much incentive for someone to bother, especially if it's not clear that there's a market for the product.  If you've already established a market, then you're probably also growing a community around your product - a community that's likely to support you (the original designer and maker of the product) rather than buying clones from an unknown competitor.  Further, if someone really wanted to rip you off, they could probably reverse engineer and replicate your product even if you didn't open-source it - and you wouldn't have the goodwill or support that comes from open-source hardware.
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For one thing, even with access to a product's design, it's not trivial for someone else to make and sell it.  They need to source components, manufacture and assemble parts, test for quality, establish distribution channels, and more.  If you're already offering the product at a fair price, there's not much incentive for someone to bother, especially if it's not clear that there's a market for the product.  If you've already established a market, then you're probably also growing a community around your product - a community that's likely to support you (the original designer and maker of the product) rather than buying clones from an unknown competitor.  Further, if someone really wanted to rip you off, they could probably reverse engineer and replicate your product even if you didn't open-source it - and you wouldn't have the goodwill or support that often accompanies open-source hardware.
  
That said, there are strategies for minimizing the potential for someone to undermine your business.  Most of them revolve around creating awareness of and trust in you and your products (i.e. the same things you need for any business).  Making and selling good products at fair prices will help people feel confident buying from you, even if others offer products based on the same design.  Strong branding (e.g. trademarks) can help make it clear which products are made and supported by you - again, even if others are using the same designs.  Finally, creating a community around your business will encourage people to buy from you, even if they can get similar products elsewhere.
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People will rip you off in the sense that they will use your designs as the basis for more advanced designs. If you don't want that to happen, you should probably not call your hardware "open source." Those of us who do build open source hardware want people to build on our designs, or at least think the benefits of the situation are worth the competition.
 
 
People will, of course, "rip you off" in the sense that they will use your designs as the basis for more advanced designs. If you don't want that to happen, you probably shouldn't make your hardware open source.  Those of us who do build open source hardware want people to build on our designs, or at least think the benefits of the situation are worth the competition.
 
  
 
=== Why aren't non-commercial restrictions compatible with open source hardware? ===
 
=== Why aren't non-commercial restrictions compatible with open source hardware? ===

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