I have a personal project started in 2018, which essentially aims at running Arduino code on an FPGA and is posted on Github. Being not very imaginative while picking a name, I just added the "duino" suffix to the CPU core name. The project was essentially dormant until recently when someone posted a blog article and a video tutorial about it, and I got a few issue reports.

At this point I have discovered that there is another project on Github with essentially the same name. It uses a different approach (extending Arduino IDE rather than FPGA IDE), so the two projects share almost no common code, but they strive to achieve the same goal and can obviously be mixed up. The sister project seems inactive, with the last commit dated 2016.

I don't think this name collision will actually transform into an actual problem anytime soon (if ever), but it made me curious: how would such conflict be resolved if it did? Could the author of the other project force me to rename mine, on the grounds that his project started earlier? Is such right to the name persistent, or can it "expire" if a project is unused / abandoned for some time, similar to a trade mark?

If that makes any difference, my project is a derivative work of Arduino core library, released under LGPLv2. The sister project doesn't specify a license explicitly, and seems to include parts of Arduino core library and a custom GCC toolchain.


Project and product names, like book titles and other short phrases, are never protected by copyright. It is not uncommon for two novels by different authors to have the same title, and neither can force the other to change, although in some cases a publisher requests an author to change if the similarity is spotted early, to avoid confusion.

For example, Arthur C. Clarke's story "Thew Wind from the Sun" was first published as "Sunjammer" but the title was changed to avoid confusion with another story with a similar subject and the same title.

For another example, Laurence Watt-Evans published a story collection entitled Cross-Time Traffic. Some years later Harry Turtledove used the exact same title for a series of novels. LWE wrote in his online newsletter that he was not happy about that, but made no attempt at legal action.

For yet another example the J programming language (an array-oriented derivative of APL) saved files with the extension .js and some years later JavaScript started using the same extension with no legal action taken.

When a product is sold or marketed under a particular name, that name might serve as a trademark and be protected as such. But this would only apply if the name were "used in trade", and a product under development not being marketed would probably not count as such. The first product to be sold, or to register a trademark usually gets the rights. Note also that trademark rights only apply if the two products are in ther same market or sufficiently similar markets that consumer confusion is plausible.

You could, of course, choose to rename your project to avoid possible future confusion, but at this point you are not required to do so.

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