Arturia Responds To Behringer’s Keystep Knockoff – “Seriously?”

Arturia today shared their response to the Behringer Swing, a minikey MIDI controller that appears to be closely based on the design of the Arturia Keystep MIDI controller.

Many musicians have criticized Behringer’s latest introduction, calling the Swing a ‘blatant knockoff’ of the Keystep and noting “Unless you are blind, it’s impossible not to see it’s the same thing!”

But some have suggested that the Swing might be the result of a collaboration between the two companies, or that Behringer might have licensed the Keystep design.

Neither of these are true.

The Behringer Swing Is Not A Collaboration With Arturia

Arturia today shared their incredulous response to Behringer introducing a knockoff of the Keystep MIDI controller.

Arturia co-founder and CEO Frédéric Brun shared an official response via Facebook:

“We have been informed on Sunday November the 22nd of the upcoming release of a new product called Swing, by Behringer.

This product is in no way the result of a partnership between Arturia and Behringer.

We have worked hard to create the _Step range. We have invested time and money to imagine, specify, develop, test and market the KeyStep. Along our distributors we have been evangelizing this product, placing it in stores, explaining it, servicing it.

Of course we accept competition, and would absolutely understand that Behinger give their own interpretation of a small and smart controller that would also be a sequencer. Others do, we have no problem with that and see good for the customer, as well as for the industry, in fair competition.

But this is not fair competition here.

Coco Chanel once said: “If you want to be original, be ready to be copied”. So we could in a way consider the Swing as a compliment.

We could.

In any case, thank you, everyone who came out and supported us these past 36 hours! It’s been very helpful, very much appreciated.”

The Behringer Swing Is Not A Licensed Version Of The Keystep Design

The Behringer Swing, shown at top, closely copies the connections and layout of the Arturia Keystep.

Some tried to explain the Behringer Swing’s design by suggesting that the company had licensed the Keystep design from Designbox, which is one of the leading musical instrument industrial design companies.

Designbox has created hardware designs for dozens of electronic instruments, including the Waldorf Wave, the Waldorf Blofeld, the Alesis Andromeda, the Virus Polar, the Moog Little Phatty, the Voyager XL, the Schmidt Analog Synthesizer, the Arturia Minibrute and the Keystep.

Designbox co-founder Axel Hartmann shot down the theory that they had licensed a design to Behringer. He shared this statement via Facebook:

“I do feel the need to comment on the many postings I can find here @ Facebook in several places regarding my thoughts, feelings, but also the truth about the blunt Behringer copy of the Arturia key step.

Arturia and myself, aka my company design box are designing instruments, synthesizers, controllers, interfaces since many years. As industrial designer, I contribute mostly my services on the asthetical side of a product. This is true for almost all hardware products that you know from Arturia.

In all cases, Arturia is buying my services – I never licensed any of the designs. Arturia always pays, and naturally owns the output of my work, that – by the way – is always the result of an in-depth cooperation with their internal team of specialists.

Arturia and myself are working together since many years, and we share the deep desire of designing innovative products. I could never share any of the designs, that came out of that cooperation with any body else, legally not, and not from my personal high attitude in that regards. So anything, pointing in that direction is simply fake information. Neither the company Behringer, nor Uli himself have ever approached me with a request like that. And I would also never ever do something like that – I can not license anything that is not in my possession.

Personally, I feel sad, and am also upset about that sheer copy of a design, that I once created for, and together with Arturia, the team around Frederic Brun. These people have spent lots of efforts and great energy in building a brand and all that belongs to a brands assets. It is simply not right, somebody else is taking advantage of that hard work (which is not only true for Arturia, but for all great brands, that must see their most successful products being copied)

I do not understand (Uli) Behringer – with his huge company and the power of many great R&D teams – some of the best and most respected and innovative companies we know in our business, that Uli was able to simply buy in the past with his money. A product like that copy simply cannot represent the core values of the people, he could convince to be part of his company.

It is simply sad, and I cannot understand that move (like many, it seems).”

Copying A Competitor’s Product And Not Trying To Improve On It ‘Is Just Absurd’

Glen Darcey, VP Product Development at Ashun Sound Machines & former VP of Product Management at Arturia, shared his thoughts on the Swing via the comments.

He suggests that Behringer’s copying represents a lost opportunity to be innovative and make improvements:

“When I did the first designs of the Keystep back in Dec 2014, I made about 10 variations over about 3 months. I started off with many different directions and we whittled it into what the Keystep became.

It takes so little effort to do something original, even if it is derivative, that it makes no sense to me why they would take this approach to making products.

To take a product that has been on the market for 5 years and not do anything new, learning from customer complaints or looking at alternate use cases, is just absurd.”

131 thoughts on “Arturia Responds To Behringer’s Keystep Knockoff – “Seriously?”

  1. Uli-haters must be developing sweaty thighs over where this could go. Logically speaking, a lawsuit the size of a battleship should be falling on him any day now. Logic and the law don’t always shake hands, but the comparison pictures seem damning. For the record, I have some Arturia gear that sounds great and is well-supported. That’s the model to follow. Frederic, I saw him do it, I’m a witness! :))

    1. The design of the Swing is absolutely based on the Keystep, but that is not necessarily against any laws. Since making knockoffs is Behringer’s bread and butter, I’m sure their lawyers are well up on what’s permissible and what isn’t.

      People loudly ridiculed the Apple “rounded corners” lawsuit, but that is essentially what many are asking for here. Unless Arturia patented some specific aspect of the Keystep, anyone is (and should be!) free to create a product with the same features – you can’t protect the concept of a controller with sequencer features. So that leaves the physical design. How different would it have to be to satisfy you?

      1. Behringer has also a history of trying to get away with illegal knock offs as it usually doesn’t suffer much more than an order to make it a bit different, as seen e.g. with their boss pedal copies.

        1. But the thing is, they’re likely not doing anything illegal. Legal protection for circuit diagrams and board layouts isn’t as clear-cut as for eg. software. Same thing with physical designs. I don’t dispute that Behringer’s actions are unethical and immoral, but that doesn’t automatically translate to breaking any laws.

          But the question stands, what changes should Behringer make for you to think the product is OK, and why?

          1. It has nothing to do with patents or electronic design. It’s straight up trademark infringement, commonly known as trade dress. Whether they can take it up in China or Philippines or wherever is another story.

      2. Arguing “But it’s legal” puts this behaviour right at the bottom of Kohlberg’s 6 stages of moral development – acting out of self-interest and the desire to avoid punishment. There are a great many things I could do that are legal but *are* unreasonable, potentially dangerous and not in the public interest.

      3. All companies patient their products to make sure no one can copy their designs and features. This is blatant plagiarism and Beehinger needs to sees production of it immediately, getting rid of any manufactured inventory.

  2. “Why this, why that, and why?”
    Well, attorneys need to make a living too.
    (Yes indeed, I just bought an Arturia Keystep Pro last week. If I had known Behringer was producing something, I would still have made the same purchase.)

  3. Tons of blatant knockoffs on Amazon. Only difference is that no one is familiar with those companies and wouldn’t dare to purchase any of their gear.

    I know everyone wants to take a stand and announce to the world that they wont support Behringer, but this is one of those moments showing no support is better to not even consider it’s existence.

    I treat Behringer like those knock off mixers on amazon from [insert company name].

    1. The recognition and popularity of your brand/product absolutely play a large factor in these cases. It is what makes the activity so likely to harm Arturia: Berhringer products are sold right along side them and often as a “equal” competitor.

      Worlde Music and the other examples that Behringer pointed out in their post are not on that same level of recognition nor wide-spread distribution and would therefore be much more difficult to show that the practice actually harms anyone significantly.

  4. As someone who is pretty much fine with what Behringer has done up to now – I’m glad they’re making cheap hardware for noobs and bringing back synths from the dead, this is definitely not a move I can support. It’s just too grossly disrespectful and doesn’t add anything new, and it’s not even that much cheaper.

  5. “seriously?” – i’m sure that’s a quote from Emily Gillet when she visited Arturia HQ to watch the Microfreak presentation

    1. Emilie released her oscillator code under a permissive license that allows commercial reuse.

      That’s significantly different than hiring Design Box to create an expensive industrial design and UX for your device and then seeing Behringer make a low cost copy of it when it sells well.

    2. hey, crapinger cheerleader, here is a direct quote from Emily:

      ”First of all, Plaits’ code is open-source, which means that anybody is free to use it, as long as they credit me somewhere (it can be in a product description page, or a footnote in a downloadable manual, or an “about” dialog).

      Arturia offered to mention something like “Oscillator code from Mutable Instruments” in the product description, which is my preferred form of citation. No monetary compensation has ever been discussed – which is fair, because I provided exactly 0 hour of work and 0 original line of code. No contract has been drafted or signed.”

      1. In fairness Arturia did fluff this up initially, because they indicated endorsement or collaboration with Mutable, which hadn’t happened. Since endorsements and consultancy are the main way that open source work makes any money, that was a bad move.

        But this is incomparable with the ridiculous and frankly odd move that Behringer just played.

      1. watching this company’s aggressive actions breed aggressive and similar behaviors in the comment sections just lets people know how important it is try to spread positivity and a sense of community. It’s really sad to see all this in the synth world.

      2. I’ll stick with the original. Clones of the key step and micro freak just don’t save me enough money to make it worthwhile, nor can I ignore how shameless these knockoffs are.

        I’ve also questioned the K2 and Odyssey, as they really wouldn’t save me much versus the Korg reissues.

        I was really quite interested in more original creations like the Neutron, and Crave. Analog TD 3’s filled a vacancy left by Roland’s decision to re-release digital versions. The WASP clone made an otherwise rare synth available again. Model D, Pro 1 clones made otherwise expensive synths much much more affordable.

        All that said, I won’t be taking a risk on another Behringer product if these needless/uninspired knockoffs will be their focus.

        I’ve already had issues with a Behringer mixer after little use, and the direction Uli is taking his company right now leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

        Stick to original designs, or at least clones that truly fill a void, and I’ll reconsider!

    3. right first of all i take “crapinger cheerleader” as personal insult… second my point was not to defend behringer but to point out that arturia as well is only occasionally innovative – they mostly sell recreation of classic synths as well, in fact.

  6. Behringer has had a great momentum with their recent synths, and clones of old gear. And I think that’s fine. And they listen to their customers. But by doing this, it’s like taking a dump on everything. If they don’t back down with this knock off, I can’t defend buying their products. Never reward bad behaviour.

      1. If keeping money in your pocket is all you care, obviously you are not a musician and much less an artist! Your comment says everything about you.
        I prefer originals and that’s what moves the world forward!
        The day Behringer goes down it will be a good day for music and music business because they haven’t done anything unique that musicians really needed. They are useless copycats!

  7. I applaud Behringer for bringing back classic synths at affordable prices, and making them quite good too. I plan on getting a 2600, the System 100 modules and a Poly D because Korg have declined (so far) to release an affordable ARP 2600 to the masses; Roland have yet to re-issue accurate System 100 modules, and the Poly D is more affordable than a new Minimoog Model D (though I accept – not as good).

    But this goes too far. Its a clear copy of an Arturia product, and how the hell does Behringer think they can get away with this? In academia – its called ‘plagiarism’ – this is effectively the same.

      1. I think the difference is making a clone of a discontinued item. If the market is out there, which the ridiculous prices of old machines is, then they have the opportunity to sell tons of reissues. But they don’t. Instead they make tiny little desktop versions that are too small for my fingers. So, for that reason, I find clones intriguing. There are tons of x0x clones, and I would assume they are thriving. Didn’t Uli even Clone a 303 mod recently?

        I have only bought one Behringer original myself, being the Crave, but I sold it because I just didn’t enjoy messing with its sequencer.. I still have a Behringer Mixer that was a Pioneer knockoff. I didn’t buy it because I wanted the Pioneer but couldn’t afford it. I bought it because it allows you to route the PFL signal to the a monitor out, and I can use it as an Aux send. I am not aware of any other mixers that function in that way, so that’s the innovation that turned me on to Behringer in the first place.

        Everyone has their reasons for stealing music, apps, etc, and for buying cheap knockoffs. And I had mine. But, as I grow older and have contributed more to society, I feel a personal bond with creators and understand the business model that keeps innovators in business. So, I will continue to buy originals from companies that are still producing them, but if I want a product and the only person who is profiting from the purchase is a reseller, I will find a new knockoff.

      2. > If copying arturia is ‘plagiarism’ then what is copying moog or roland? Those companies still exist.

        In the particular case of Moog, no. Moog went bankrupt and its assets sold. Bob then ran Big Briar Music and sold theremins. At a certain point he was able to purchase his name Moog back and establish the current business, which continued from Big Briar. Bob didn’t buy his patents back because there was no point, they had expired by then. The old patents and designs are free for anyone to use now. The word Moog is not as it is a registered trademark.

  8. When I did the first designs of the Keystep back in Dec 2014, I made about 10 variations over about 3 months. I started off with many different directions and we whittled it into what the Keystep became.

    It takes so little effort to do something original, even if it is derivative, that it makes no sense to me why they would take this approach to making products. To take a product that has been on the market for 5 years and not do anything new, learning from customer complaints or looking at alternate use cases, is just absurd.

    1. Great comment and good point – Behringer’s lack of creativity means that they’re not introducing anything innovative and new, and they’re also making it less profitable for other companies to actually create new gear designs.

  9. I like a lot of Behringers products – including my over 20 year old mixer. But this time he’s been plain stupid. This one will backfire on Behringer – big time.

  10. This is somewhat nauseating.

    Artists and engineers stand on the shoulders of others. But it really takes very little effort to make a tweak here and there to at least appear less derivative. And at best, a smart designer/engineer can add something exciting and new to the world.

    I won’t buy Behringer’s equipment.

  11. I’ll play the Devil’s advocate. Pretend I’m one of those lawyers you see on TV shows who shows up right when their client is being interrogated:

    “Did my client do anything illegal? No? Then you’ve got nothing to charge him with. I think we’re done here.”

          1. Trademarks are not patents, and design patents are not the same as utility patents. Have Arturia taken out a design patent on the Keystep?

            If not, it’s irrelevant to bring it up. Behringer are not using the Arturia nor the Keystep branding. You may want to argue that the design of the Keystep itself constitutes a trademark, but I believe you would have a hard time defending it.

    1. It’s perfectly legal to sleep with your best friend’s lover, but that won’t stop most people from thinking “Wow…what an asshole”.

  12. I saw that Behringer came out with something
    But I’ve been so blown away by The MicroFreak, I didn’t
    even give it a 2nd look. After purchasing The Freak, I immediately
    went to Arturias site when I needed another small keyboard and purchased
    The Keystep

  13. Theres lazy, and then there’s laaaazzzzzy.

    Make version of the keystep with larger keys. Make a version of the BSP without the ground loop issue. Give them USB C jacks. Add a midi thru. Make the midi 3.5″. Do something. Anything.

    There are a million practical improvements you could add, but there are dozen of nearly zero-effort changes that people would actually want. Especially for a mass electronics manufacturer.

    Now that I think of it, I dont even know if it’s lazy. It almost seems like more effort to precisely clone this with zero improvements. Its like they went out of their way to specifically make an uglier keystep. Does the SEO of our angry confusion really translate into that many more sales as opposed to just making… i don’t know… literally anything else?

    1. ?? less overhead in R&D, more profit. But what fool chose to NOT copy the SEQ/ARP slide switch so now you flip it while turning the dial next to it. That alone must be worth the $30 extra?

  14. Greetings from Finland.

    I, too, have liked, and like, Behringers re-releaseses of old classics, and it could be said, being kinda behringer fanboy, for making 2600, Odyssey, Model D etc. BUT this is not acceptable, in any way. It’s one thing to bring possible to buy copies of oldies and goldies which original units take thousands and thousands of dollars to acquire. This is why I’ve liked Behringers synths. But this is not anything of such. This is more of a ridiculous side, and not in any way funny way. Just plain sad.

    Behringer screwed up now, big time. As much as I like their other products but this must not come to markets. Behringer has come too big a name in consumer -friendly synths that they could (or should) get away with this.

    To be honest, I don’t hope this to make Behringer “go down”, they still do good work with oldies but goldies and even with their own but to make a carbon copy of other companys relevant product….. Nnnnope. It’s time to them, as Uli, as the whole company to stop now and take a deeeeeep look in the mirror and make this thing right.

  15. Here’s a couple of comments I posted when I saw their YouTube video:

    “Looking forward to the Behringer Live 11 Suite DAW for sub $750, and before Ableton get theirs out. Next up – a Scarlett 18i20 with the DAW free”.
    “Does it come in white by any chance?

    Seriously though, it’d be nice instead of cloning current gear, we focus instead on getting more 2600s and system 100 eurorack modules out the door”.

    I’ve been a Behringer supporter for a while now, and they do make great gear, but honestly this was just daft, and I’m considering other stuff.
    Well, after the 2600 as I do want that.

  16. Really Arturia? You worked hard to develop probably one of the most common layouts a basic midi controller will have? C’mon. I have an old 88 midi keyboard and the layout with buttons are almost identical – no knobs- but still its basic.

    1. Which exact one do you have then? I would love to see how that almost identical, basic layout of your old 88-key MIDI keyboard has the exact same functions assigned to the keyboard, and how it’s form factor fits the Arturia Keystep!

  17. Behringer is a parasite, this product doesn’t lead to a symbiotic coexistence that also benefits the host, but is designed to impact negatively on product evolution by an innovative competitor company as Arturia.

    Research and development is expensive, cutting R+D will lower the appeal of Behringer’s competitors products by lowering the design bar, thus creating a market where larger underwelming companies can sell mediocre undeveloping technology.

    For the future of Music Technology, please spend a little more and dont buy Behringer.

    1. ”First of all, Plaits’ code is open-source, which means that anybody is free to use it, as long as they credit me somewhere (it can be in a product description page, or a footnote in a downloadable manual, or an “about” dialog).

      Arturia offered to mention something like “Oscillator code from Mutable Instruments” in the product description, which is my preferred form of citation. No monetary compensation has ever been discussed – which is fair, because I provided exactly 0 hour of work and 0 original line of code. No contract has been drafted or signed.”

      Emily Gillet – Mutable Instruments

    2. Why? They didn’t copy any hardware from MI, they just used the ‘Open Source Code’ and they were permitted to do that (in fact that’s the point ‘Open Source’ Code )- it is completely different and it their marketing they said the code was from MI so they give MI credit.

      1. open source does not mean that you can’t also be generous when your are a company like arturia (specially if product is successful)
        it does not need to be much, but thank you seems a bit short

    3. Because you can’t be bothered to read the other comments in this thread, I’m pasting Mike’s response to another commenter:

      “hey, crapinger cheerleader, here is a direct quote from Emily:

      ”First of all, Plaits’ code is open-source, which means that anybody is free to use it, as long as they credit me somewhere (it can be in a product description page, or a footnote in a downloadable manual, or an “about” dialog).

      Arturia offered to mention something like “Oscillator code from Mutable Instruments” in the product description, which is my preferred form of citation. No monetary compensation has ever been discussed – which is fair, because I provided exactly 0 hour of work and 0 original line of code. No contract has been drafted or signed.”

  18. I have no problem with them putting out vintage clones, but the laziness and stupidity of putting out something with no changes that has recently designed by another company is puzzling to say the least. The key step is only a little more expensive with a more reputable brand and without the stink of plagiarism. I hope Behringer reconsiders this ill thought out move. Use your R&D to make new awesome products. The X32 and the Neutron are great examples of this.

  19. Buy Arturia if you want to support them. Else, the uncanny resemblance makes no mistake about one replicating the other. Nonetheless, it’s a commercial world and Arturia could have taken out patents/copyrights to protect its IP.

    1. Seriously, it’s like everyone was asleep when guitars, cars, tv’s, computers, software, food, toilets, paper, cameras, refrigerators, tools, pumpkins, and human babies all looked the same out of the box.

      It’s normal business practices everywhere else. Like nobody every copied music.

      1. Wrong. It is legal and acceptable to copy *ideas* of products. And one cannot patent or register just an *idea*. But what Behringer did here is STEALING INDUSTRIAL DESIGN. This is sometimes described as “copying the look and feel of competitive company’s product to deceive customers”.

        1. Design patents are the worst patents. There’s proprietary utility here at all. These arguments are nonsense.

          ‘Look and feel’ died as an argument long ago.

  20. Wait a second…I think I own something from Arturia called the V Collection? Pretty sure. Pretty sure it’s a bunch of software clones of classic synthesizers. One might even call them “knock offs”. Two wrongs don’t make a right I suppose.

    Truthfully, other than the keyboard, the keystep is pretty worthless and I wouldn’t be surprised if Arturia has abandoned support for it now that the Pro version is out. Not unlike the beatstep, which I HAD contacted them about and was basically told there would be no updates or help almost 2 years after it came out. The original Beatstep is pretty much a paper weight.

    I think people might forget about this one, as the keystep is pretty forgettable. Not even sure why Behringer would want to copy it. Other than seeing everyone in the demo/review videos using one. That’s probably the real bad decision being made here. Copying a pretty worthless product that a bunch of people already got conned into buying.

    If I remember correctly, a lot of people were complaining about the Keystep being another “half-baked” product.

    1. You’re missing the point. There’s a BIG difference between making a software emulation of a hardware synth, and making a hardware clone of it. In the first case you’ll have to write an entire code that reproduces in digital the behavior of thousands of components. That involves a lot of tests and R&D. That’s not even taking into account the whole GUI design, patch storage, etc.

      I’ve heard of a lot of people complaining about the Boog Model D VCOs instability. Like the original Minimoog had. Hell, they didn’t even bother their arse trying to modernise/improve the original circuitry! They probably just opened a Minimoog, copied exactly what they found, maybe had to find alternatives for a few discontinued components, that’s it. Even small companies like Studio Electronics made loads of tweaks and improvements on their Minimoog clones, like 20 or 30 years ago.

      Behringer is a shameful company blatantly taking advantage of 50 years of intellectual property.

  21. i do not understand why arturia obviously did not register design and utility patent. this is standard procedure. if you leave your bike unlocked, somebody will take it. and i do not understand why behringer is risking this shitstorm for a small product with low profit. they were on a good way, now the PR department probably is calling in sick.

  22. I don’t like Arturia product much but this is a shitty move from Behringer and only has a bad outcome for them..or is it?

    There is a plan behind this move and maybe we should all question what that move is?

    Maybe Behringer wants to piss off certain people and try to be boycotted?
    Than play the victim card and present their own supply chain around the globe bypassing everyone.

    If Uli has balls he should speak up why he’s doing this shit.
    This swing at others needs to stop and isn’t good for anyone.

      1. So Behringer’s official position is, “These third-tier Chinese manufacturers copy other people’s gear. That makes it okay for us to do it, too.” Umm, no. It just puts Behringer on the same level as these other no-name brands.

    1. The plan is a good marketing plan. While we are discussing the name B….. goes over the webs like a virus. Uli just needs to throw out some pictures, leaning back and the whole world is going mad. Chapeau Uli 😉 How does it feel to be such an innovative copycat?

  23. Pretty pathetic cloning indeed. Now you can save a whopping 10 bucks over the original! It doesn’t even make business sense to me. Regarding originality at Behringer, the decision on that is taken by senior management.

  24. This sure sounds like Behringer is a bully, shady business man, and maybe even a criminal.

    Intellectual property, a brand’s historical knowledge and DNA… they largely define the products and services.

    Historically, Behringer the brand seems more like a ruthless disruptor, with zero regard for anything but margins and covering their dirty tactics. They seem to be the single worst offender in the industry.

    Cheap gear sounds great, until you realize as a musician, your intellectual property is very important. Buying Behringer gear is akin to someone stealing your song. This isn’t a derivative work… this is theft.

    I just hope folks vote with their wallets, and musicians continue to encourage folks to NOT buy Uli’s knockoff sweatshop portly made gear. Stop lining the guy’s pockets and do the right thing.

  25. Behringer defends himself at the Music Tribe website citing competition rules and using phones and cars i.e. But the point lost on him is that musicians are not like phone or car users, not even like sound engineers that buy mics and mixers.

    Musicians PARTICULARLY don’t like the act of copying a creative product. It’s not a legal problem Uli, its a moral and emotional one…

  26. Hi All I’m nothing more than an armchair lawyer who’s just gonna leave this here.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_dress#United_States

    Under section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, a product’s trade dress can be protected without formal registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).[11] In part, section 43(a) states the following:

    Any person who, on or in connection with any goods or services, or any container for goods, uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any false designation of origin, false or misleading description of fact, or false or misleading representation of fact, which

    (A) is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive […] as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of his or her goods, services, or commercial activities by another person, or
    (B) in commercial advertising or promotion, misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities, or geographic origin of his or her or another person’s goods, services, or commercial activities,

    shall be liable in a civil action by any person who believes that he or she is likely to be damaged by such an act.[12]

    This statute allows the owner of a particular trade dress (“container for goods”) to sue an infringer (a person or entity who illegally copies that trade dress) for violating section 43(a) without registering that trade dress with any formal agency or system (unlike the registration and application requirements for enforcing other forms of intellectual property, such as patents). It is commonly seen as providing “federal common law” protection for trade dress (and trademarks).[13]

  27. I have a cottage business designing and selling spice blends. My blends run from every day blends to very spicy and hot. I meet and talk with many folks who do the same with spice blends from their homes. Unfortunately, I’ve met a lot of copy cats …..and most of them were working in labs for big food manufacturers. It really twists me bad to see big company’s stealing ideas from the average joes or from company’s like Arturia. This issue with the Keystep….if Behringer was the least bit concerned, they would recall this product now. Not knowing how this works, I would hope they would recall this product. It’s such a shame to see any big business do this. What a waste of potential that Behringer has at its disposal.

  28. This is just morally wrong. I have no objection to clones of equipment long out of production, where the original company is long gone or just refuses to reissue a more modern but authentic recreation that people have been begging them to do for decades (looking firmly at you Roland and Yamaha!).

    At least make some effort to change the design or make it better but this…………..nope.

  29. While not buying Behringer since the late 90s (and their Mackie knockoff), I have to admit that I was considering their 909 clone lately. This will *never* happen now.

    Behringer just confirmed once again that they represent everything i hate in this world.

  30. The notion that this is lazy or stupid misses the point: this is deliberate and strategic. Behringer are trying to capitalize on the success of the keystep and, perhaps more significantly, test how companies (and consumers) will respond to such moves. They have weighed the balance between public outrage and consumer appeal and decided that the balance is in the favour of pushing this out.

    A common rhetorical move from defenders (and behringer) has been to argue that ‘generic/knock-offs are common place in many other areas of consumer goods, so it is perfectly fine for behringer to do what they are doing’. I would contend that, despite how big the business of synths and music is, many of us view these devices differently than we do oreos or even smartphones and we hope that this particular region of culture might embody a different set of values.

    That may be part of the reason we admire innovators like Bob Moog and Don Buchla. Businesses obviously do not have to respect this idealistic notion, but for those b-defenders who can’t seem to grasp why others might be unhappy, maybe this gives a bit of insight. Money isn’t the bottom line for everyone, even for those of us who don’t have much of it! If behringer are going to do what they are doing, it is fine for those of us who dislike it to voice our opinions.

  31. I worked in music stores in my teens and early 20s. When Mackie came along they upended the market with great design in and out. They differentiated their products from Yamaha and Peavey with those designs, performance and price.

    Mackie ate Peavey’s lunch in the process, but Peavey responded as best they could. Alesis was similar. They grabbed a chunk of the market with innovative products like the HR16 drum machine and MMT-8 sequencer. Yamaha responded with competitive products and musicians reaped the benefits.

    Then Uli shows up. He negotiated with contract manufacturers in China, relied on surface mount board design to drop costs, then directly stole the ID of competitors products. I think the goal was simple: If they look the same and cost less musicians will choose lower cost. It worked.

    Launching a business like this is distasteful. Sticking with that business model for another 30 years is despicable.

    I have bought one Behringer product in my life. I’m selling it. This company is lazy, entitled and only interested in cannabalizing other products to make a buck. Ill go without buying something or save money over time to buy original designs rather than put a dime in Uli’s pockets. The instant gratification of buying a knock off is no longer enough.

    1. The world is rife with lower priced products, cheaper made, with the same functionality. Have you seen cars lately? Planes? Computers? Headphones? Guitars? Tables? Chairs? VCRs? Tablets? Power tools? Plugins?

      There is literally no industry where people have not lowered the cost of manufacture and undercut competition.

      The fact Arturia is somehow offended (and taken offguard by) standard competitive practices doesn’t speak well to their management.

      Everyone conveniently forgets that Arturia’s V series plugins at one time all sounded suspiciously the same, crashed all the time and their controllers and synths were rife with manufacturing defects.

      Behringer’s only sin is they’re actually too lazy to create new form factors for their copied products which is why they get attacked.

      1. No matter.

        This is copy.

        Copying is wrong. Even if Behringers lawyers can find loopholes from law, it is clear for people with normal consciense, that this is wrong. It is stealing, and stealing is wrong.

        I hope, that Behringer used more resources in design, instead of astroturfing, and suing their critics.

        Some people do not want to support this kind of ”progress”, and despise it openly. Get over it.

        I applaud everyone who openly despises shady businesses!

      2. These are instruments intended to serve a creative market. In fact, this synth market was built from scratch on the shoulders of Moog, Buchla, Perlman, Oberheim, Smith, Kakehashi, Chowning and more. I do my best to not buy knockoffs of anything. I’ll buy used or wait for a blowout sale. Each of the companies above owners/designers either adapted to a model where lowering manufacturing costs kept them competitive, or their companies were bought by companies who did (Sequential to Yamaha, ARP to CBS/Fender, Oberheim to Gibson). Even then some of those acquiring companies messed up and did not continue to adapt. Now some of them are, notably Smith and Moog, but without selling their souls in the process.

        I see similarities between Behringer and Starbucks actually. I will never go to a Starbucks because their business model is all about targeting ares with existing, established, successful local coffee roasters then opening a store across the street. They do this specifically to grab the clientele these businesses have built over many years. Starbucks undercuts them, out markets them and sneaks their brand into lifestyle campaigns that imbeds them into communities. Most importantly, their coffee is lousy compared to most boutique roasters (OK, in my experience).

        Regarding soft synths copying existing designs – like Arturia did – I honestly don’t see that the same way at all. Perhaps that’s my bias. Yet they NEVER could match the sound and ease of use you get from the originals. They do make some things easy. But face it, would anyone really CHOOSE a Prophet VI over a Prophet 08/6/5? Maybe. I’d rather save up or buy used.

        So, I would have LESS of a gripe with Behringer if their clone business grew into something unique. If their Live sound systems didn’t always look and be designed like a Yamaha or Mackie products. If they actually BROUGHT SOMETHING TO THE TABLE to musicians other than, “hey, we’re cheaper”. If they didn’t JUST intentionally flood the market with knockoffs at the exact same time Moog, Dave Smith/Tom Oberheim/Sequential were jump starting their businesses I’d be less critical. If MAYBE just maybe, they created something unique.

        But Uli is apparently all about making a buck. And his crass attitude and dismissive behavior just adds insult to injury. They are a company to be avoided whenever possible IMO.

  32. I am happy, that more people notice, what kind of business Behringer runs.

    But I hope, that people will notice, that this is not new for Behringer.

    This is why I will NEVER BUY ANYTHING FROM BEHRINGER.
    EWWW!

    1. Although I find this product appaling, I strongly suspect that the general idea for Behringer is to design their gear close to others products in order to save huge on marketing. Uli only need to make s single post in social media, sit down and let communities like this take over the marketing process.

  33. I still feel dirty from seeing those pictures, and I have a little puke in my mouth as well. The nerve! But honestly, while everyone is saying that this time they went too far, my guess is that Uli is currently having the best days in his life. Not only did he blatantly rip off a fellow company in broad daylight saying “then sue me if you dare”, but he also gets to create shadow accounts on all sorts of social media websites, flaming all those good-natured musicians that are calling him out on this [email protected]#1S#1t. I bet he and Resident Rump would have a good time together.

  34. I was excited to see original designs like the Neutron, was planning to pick one up. Not anymore. This shameless, uninspired, and needless knockoff leaves a bitter taste about Behringer, even more than the mixer I own.

    Too bad. I understand some of the clones. WASP is otherwise rare, TD3 is analog, Model D saves a bundle.

    There is no point in buying a keystep knockoff.

  35. Blue jeans
    Phones
    Bags
    Watches
    Synths

    The ongoing battle royale of free market conceptions.
    In the one corner, we have IP protection, providing a time-limited monopoly to inventors in the hope of encouraging creative innovation and creating new designs to be enjoyed by those who can afford monopoly pricing. In the other, we have manufacturing and delivery competition, providing incrementally changing products as cheaply as possible to the masses.

    In a globalized economy, the latter conception has more market power and will dominate due to lack of universal enforcement IP norms. The pragmatic creative will focus on delivering those exclusive qualities that cannot be mass produced: customer experience, etc. As with purchasing music rather than using torrents, it’s incumbent on the consumer to vote for the reality they desire by selecting to pay the IP premium or not. Frankly, that’s a function of culture (as evidenced by Japanese CD prices).

  36. From the US Supreme court decision on Trade Dress: “…Trade dress can now only be protected if it is proved that buyers associate the design with a single source. This association, or “secondary meaning,” will need to be shown by presenting evidence in the form of direct consumer testimony, consumer surveys, and/or documentation of circumstances such as the length of time the design has been used exclusively by the manufacturer, the type of advertising, advertising expenditures, the number of sales and customers, and any proof of intentional copying. Proving secondary meaning can be difficult and costly, and is usually impossible for new market entrants.” If this goes to court in the USA, B is probably going to lose…

  37. As a small developer, the fear is really big now that with B around it will hijack creative plumbing work you may have worked on for so long, open it up and copies it, It so very easy with the enormous amount of engineers that are available in China who can do the hardware copy work in just a few days. Plus the hardware technology used in these product is very basic and B has a whole supply chain around them for the mechanical parts. Hardware is cheap and easy. software just takes a little longer supervised from Germany to take out he bugs. There is nothing new copying ideas, just go look at the Flash of Genius. But Its sad to see a company with such a design and supply chain capacity to lower itself down this path.

  38. Bottom line: I sold all my behringer synths (ie The Neutron only) because I’d be embarrassed to gig or show anyone anything I was doing featuring their ripped off tat. And if I see anyone else with their gear I cringe and it makes me want to stop listening. If you’re making really good music with their stuff I just think ‘what a shame, you could have just gone the extra mile to make it worthwhile”

  39. Just spend the extra dollars and buy the Arturia Keystep (or the Pro); the difference in cost is minimal.

    Frankly, I’ve come up somewhat short as to why this product makes any sense; if purchase cost ends up becoming the ONLY motivating factor, beyond ingenuity or continuous improvement, what will happen when volume manufacturing loses its own cost efficiency (i.e., with the advent of 3D printing / desktop mills, etc., at home)?

    Release files to GitHub repo, done–no Frick, no flood.

  40. In the end, Behringer’s stuff is always cheap, doesn’t last, and certainly not worth the few dollars one might save on this particular product. There are many affordable, amazing synths, and midi keyboards available with good build quality. It’s pay now or later, as most Behringer stuff breaks, and the musician eventually buys a quality product anyway.

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