I was sad to see you go pretty dormant soon after I was able to get my grubby hands on an Empyrean. Glad to see you're going to to give it another go, I'm along for the journey.
https://www.tinydevices.org/wiki/pmwiki.php?n=TinyPFA.Homepage would have given a very good frequency measurement tool ... But only for NanoVNA-H4 hardware
From the same tiny SA source software and some more. Pity you missed that
As you mention, this is a well-known conundrum for Open Source hardware. The various licenses only work if folks respect the creator's license terms, and often don't work if the derivatives are beyond the (moral and legal) enforcement mechanisms. It's impractical to attempt lawsuits, or even shaming, towards an organization based in China.
You're in good company worrying about this. See Great Scott Gadgets - Testing a HackRF Clone - https://zeroretries.substack.com/i/44428106/great-scott-gadgets-testing-a-hackrf-clone. Link to the original story - https://greatscottgadgets.com/2021/12-07-testing-a-hackrf-clone/.
It's not... open source... I guess but here are some things I'd be tempted to do if I were creating a new system that is subject to cloning:
* Make it clear from the beginning that you know that cloning is probably inevitable, but that to make the project sustainable, you won't be providing support for cloned products.
* Keep an eye out for clones, and identify them on your website. I think RTL-SDR.com has done a particularly good job about this, and they make it easy to understand why they do a better job than the cheap Software Defined Receiver dongles - https://www.rtl-sdr.com/buy-rtl-sdr-dvb-t-dongles/ and so whenever I reference an inexpensive RTL-SDR, I point at THAT site because their products are explained and documented very well.
* In the early days of TAPR, the TNC-2 (not sure about the TNC-1) designs weren't open source, but available only under license; payment of a license fee and a royalty for the first year's production. Granted this was in the days before Laissez-faire manufacturing in China of anything electronic meant that anything electronic (licensed or not) gets cloned. But that model did insure some immediate and some longer-term revenue to TAPR
* Official support forum that's ONLY accessible to those who have purchased a product from the original vendor. No discussion about clones is permitted - original vendor hardware only.
* Per incident high $$$ support - Have a cloned product and really want some (competent, not wisdom of the crowds) support? Go to the website and buy a support ticket, and the vendor will call you at an agreed upon time.
I look forward to seeing what you come up with!
Steve Stroh N8GNJ
As you observe, what many think are protective licenses (short of actual patents) aren't any form of IP protection at all for the actual "designs. " Things leak into the public domain all the time this way and it isn't necessarily unscrupulous or illegal behavior to clone such items. Patents for design and trademarks for catchy names are the answer for those who truly wish to play in this "protect my IP" game. Short of that, things put on the Internet (not kept a trade secret) are fair game. Grim? Perhaps, but clever ways likely exist to live with and circumvent the reality that protecting designs from copying on the cheap is near impossible. Charging an hourly rate for support of clones makes a lot of sense... probably for legit hardware as well really. .. you gotta eat.