This article covers the issue of counterfeit boards – how to identify them and warning signs to look out for in stores. Let us first differentiate between compatible and counterfeit boards.
- Compatible: When a third-party product has copied the open-source hardware design and uses its own brand name. No problem!
- Counterfeit: When a third-party product uses the Arduino name and/or logo directly on the product, or in the store, to deceive customers. Not cool!
It is fine for compatible brands to reference Arduino, in order for their customers to easily identify what type of product it is. Read more about trademark use in relation to compatible products here.
How to identify a counterfeit board
Individually sold Arduino boards come packaged in a compact, well-made cardboard box.
- The top side should have a graphic of the board.
- The bottom side should list specifications for the board.
Counterfeits may come packaged in cheaper and generic packaging, like a plastic antistatic bag or zipper bag.
Color and silkscreen
The silkscreen is a layer of ink trace that contains logos, symbols, and text used to identify components. It also provides the board with a background color. Many of our most popular boards, particularly the Arduino UNO Rev3 (which has the most counterfeits) are today produced with our new teal color. Virtually all counterfeits still use the blue color, and this can be a straightforward way of identifying a counterfeit.
|Original UNO Rev 3 (front)||Original UNO Rev 3 (back)|
|Original Due (front)||Original Due (back)|
Logos and fonts
Key indicators of an original board are:
- The registered mark (®) next to the logo.
- Quality print with well-defined letters.
- Same font used for all text on the board.
Conversely, key indicators of a counterfeit board are:
- The trademark symbol (™) next to the logo.
- Lower quality print. The first letter in “Arduino” is often “filled in” due to poor quality control.
- Different fonts used for text printed on the board.
When you carefully observe the font in which ‘Arduino’ is written you can find a difference between the original and counterfeits. Counterfeits tend to overlook or not be able to reproduce the same quality.
|Counterfeit board with varying fonts.|
On counterfeit boards the overall execution can be poorly made, e.g. the components are sloping.
The PTC fuse (depicted below) should be a custom golden-black, with “501K” or similar printed on it, or the Arduino infinity symbol on newer boards. On a counterfeit, it may be a generic component, with a green color or otherwise different.
|Original board||Original board||Counterfeit|
LED indicator lights can also indicate a counterfeit. Arduino boards use the following colors for on-board LEDs:
- Green for power.
- Yellow for most other signaling.
- RGB LEDs for some newer boards.
A board using a red LED for power or signaling indicates a counterfeit.
|Arduino UNO Rev3||Counterfeit UNO|
|Arduino UNO SMD||Counterfeit UNO SMD|
|Arduino Mega||Counterfeit Mega|
How to avoid buying a counterfeit board
These tips can help you avoid buying a counterfeit in the first place.
Use the Arduino store as a reference
Even if you’re not using the Arduino Store, it is still a useful reference for product names, colors, and prices.
Naming and descriptions
Look out for phrases like “clone” or “for Arduino”. These phrases are normally used to identify non-Arduino boards and components. They can be compatible boards and not counterfeits, but they are not original Arduino products.
- Photos taken from the Arduino Store.
- Non-matching photos. A closeup may depict an official Arduino board, while a wider image of the kit may include the actual counterfeit.
- Photos that are angled or blurry so it is difficult to see the details.
Manufacturing and distribution
- Arduino is the only manufacturer of Arduino products.
- There are no special versions of Arduino boards released in specific geographical regions, e.g. an "official Chinese version”.
- All Arduino boards are assembled in Italy.
- See this page for information on our official distributors around the world.
If an Arduino product is being sold online for less than in the Arduino store, it may be a counterfeit.
Please note that purchasing an official Arduino product will support:
- Developing new open-source hardware
- Producing documentation
- CE/FCC certification
- Carbon offsetting
- Quality control
- Community management
- Publishing tutorials
- Make donations to other open-source projects
- Hosting and maintaining websites and forums for millions of users