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Response to Accusations About the Open Source Community

As you know, RomRaider and the other OpenECU projects are free tools in an market that was until recently held by two very expensive options. Stepping in to this territory has drawn a host of unwarranted accusations and misinformation about what we do. Hurting from lost revenue, Ecutek has begun a propaganda campaign to attempt to damage the image of the open source tools (which I will refer to as ‘OS tools’), and I’d like to take this chance to rebut and tell you the truth.

I urge you to link to this post any time you see such any false information.

Recently, You may have read, in part or whole, an email sent by Ecutek to all of their distributers accusing directly or indirectly) the OS tools of having inferior developers, stealing of technology and stealing Ecutek’s intellectual property. To be fair, it seems the main point of this email was not to bash the OS tools, but it contains more misinformation than I can ignore. I will quote and address several parts of that email in this post.

Stolen Intellectual Property

It is always easier to imitate than innovate.

If you are in any doubt about the origins of this free software then see below just one screen shot that shows our unique data that appear in the openecu products. Also study the names and letter capitalisation. Ask yourself if you were writing software could you come up with EXACTLY the same names for 50 maps and capitalise them the same as us? As well as shortening words like “Advance Mult for Boost Disable” as used in both pieces of software?

The accusation that OS tools have stolen anything from Ecutek or any other party are unfounded and completely untrue. I (the lead developer of RomRaider) have never seen a copy of Ecutek’s software, and have only seen 2 screenshots in the year plus I’ve been working on RomRaider. As I’ll go in to later, the same methods were (most likely) used by all of the parties now involved, and all were discovered with equal legitimacy. Further:

  • Ecutek has no intellectual property: Aside from their actual source code and the design of their interface, none of the information pertaining to the ECU belongs to Ecutek. It belongs to Denso or Subaru, and even that could be argued. All of this information was found (by all of the parties) by reverse engineering the code from these ECUs, which is illegal to begin with.
  • Ecutek’s “proof” is not fabricated: As evidence of the theft of Ecutek’s IP, the email included a screenshot of their software next to ecuEdit. The maps displayed were identical in both tools, and anyone can agree it’s not a coincidence. Ecutek lied to its distributers by implying that this is proof the OS tools are stealing from them. The definitions used in this screenshot are produced by a 3rd party utility that is not associated with any of the OS tools, but rather created by a person who uses them. Further, this is the only work that could conceivably (though incorrectly) be associated with the OS tools that resembles Ecutek work in any way. It’s like downloading a copyrighted magazine article, viewing it in Word, and accusing Microsoft of stealing the article.


However the market has dictated that customers do not seem to want to pay for the luxury of good work, skilled tuning and back up, therefore there are no longer any pricing recommendations from our point of view.

Here Ecutek is implying that if you aren’t paying hundreds of dollars for a license, you aren’t using a quality tool. It is very simple to see why this isn’t true:

  • Reading/Flashing ECU: These functions are identical between Ecutek, Cobb, OS tools, and Subaru. The ability to read and flash ECUs is required by the OBD-II specifications. The method of developing an interface and application to actually do this have not been shared by any of the aforementioned parties, but the process would most likely involve reading an image directly from the ROM chip itself, and reverse engineering it to find the method to do so via a diagnostics port, which is what the end user uses. Possible problems include a faulty ECU, a disruption in power to the ECU while reflashing, and a lost connection to the ECU during reflashing. These possible problems apply equally to all reflashing methods.
  • Data Manipulation, or Tuning: These operations are surprisingly simple. The data in an ECU is stored as binary data. Tuning is as simple as finding this binary data and changing it as you see fit. Tuning software converts the binary data in to values that make sense to humans, provides an interface for modifying it, and has additional tools to make modifying it more intuitive and more automated. Ecutek software and the OS tools (along with virtually every other tuning software for any application) have rougly the same feature set.

All of these tools enable the tuner to do the same things. Using free software does not limit a tuner in any way, and certainly does not reduce the quality of their work.


We hope that you appreciate something of what we have done for you and that this price reduction will help you compete with a free product. Here Ecutek is implying that tuners must compete with the OS tools. The same tuners that these tools were created for!

I’ll finish later.


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RomRaider is developed and supported by volunteers working on their own time. To support their efforts please consider making a donation.

Page last modified on January 31, 2007, at 11:14 PM
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