Having announced the Behringer Swing MIDI controller / sequencer on Sunday which bears a striking resemblence to the Arturia KeyStep many music making enthusiasts have called out Behrigner for being anti-competitive. Arturia released a statement last night echoing that. You can read their CEO's statement here.
Now it's easy to jump on the bandwagon and finger point at Behringer for cloning the KeyStep. Especially as it appears, from a hardware perspective, they have done just that.
However, in their own official statement in reply to Arturia and some emotive magazine articles, Behringer wants you to know that cloning sometimes takes place across the industry from other brands too...
Of course, it's up to you dear reader how you respond. Ultimately, you vote with your wallet and your comments on social media as all music technology companies are aware of.
This piece makes for an interesting read even if you don't enjoy getting involved in the politics of the music industry and just want to make music ;)
"Since various magazines and Arturia have publicly called us out over the launch of our Swing MIDI Controller, we would like to respond and share some facts around the principles of competition and clear up some misconceptions.
"Competition is a highly effective tool to drive innovation by empowering Customers to make their best choices and force manufacturers to constantly reinvent themselves. Innovation means progress and this happens on many levels, whether it relates to customer experience, functionality or cost efficiencies etc.
"There are 4 established marketing strategies: market leader, market challenger, market follower and market nichers. Here is a great article: https://aytm.com/blog/brand-positioning-for-a-competitive-edge-part-3/
"The competition law was designed to avoid companies creating a market monopoly and stifle innovation, which would be detrimental to the rights of the Customers to expect better offerings. The law was specifically designed to encourage everyone to fiercely compete, even when it means over the same functionality and design, provided intellectual property such as utility (functional) and design patents as well as trademarks etc. are respected.
"How many Fender Stratocaster or Gibson Les Paul clones are out there in the guitar world and how many SM58 clones are available? How many cars or mobile phones look alike? It is not surprising that Gibson recently lost a substantial legal case trying to prevent others from making V-shape guitars or Fender, who lost all trademark cases related to their Stratocaster design.
"The reason is simple: the law encourages competition and provides maximum freedom for companies to engage head-on, all for the benefit of the Customer.
"We are spending large amounts of resources on innovation, which is reflected in products such as X32, XR18, Flow, DDM4000, etc. This made us the global market leader for analog and digital mixers and over the years we have built an extensive patent portfolio: https://community.musictribe.com/pages/intellectual-property
"However, we also clearly choose to follow successful brands and products, while adding more features and/or competing on price. Much of our innovation is invisible to the Customer as it relates to our highly advanced and automated design and manufacturing processes and for that we are spending hundreds of millions of US$.
For this reason, we have become strategic partners with Microsoft, Siemens, Adobe and many other Tier 1 companies as we are pushing for extreme digitization and automation.
"The follower marketing strategy is a very common business model in any industry, which is enabled by law to encourage competition. With our new Swing MIDI Controller, we followed an established concept, but of course wrote our own firmware with added functionality. However, these unique features will only come to life when we launch our free DAW.
"The free Music Tribe DAW will form the heart of an incredible eco-system, where all our controllers, synthesizers and drum machines etc. will integrate seamlessly, thus dramatically improve connectivity and workflow. This will make it incredibly easy for our Customers to create, edit and share their music.
"Only our upcoming controllers will feature total integration with our synthesizers, drum machines, digital mixers and other Music Tribe equipment, while also offering standard functionality with all 3rd party products.
"For anyone familiar with the industry landscape, Arturia has been cloned for years (Worlde MiniMidi, etc.), while the company has also been “borrowing” from others with their VST replicas of legendary hardware synths, open-source code from Mutable Instruments, the “Expressive Touche” controller or the registration of known “DX7” and “Synthi” marks. Equally, our own analog Xenyx mixers and many other products have been widely cloned.
"We will absolutely continue to deliver innovative products but also follow our competitors as we expect our products to be cloned - fair play.
"We are very cautious when it comes to our follower approach and employ expert intellectual property firms to ensure our products stay within the boundaries of the law; we are committed to never intentionally infringe on other companies’ intellectual property.
"Many years ago, we were entangled in bitter lawsuits with Mackie and Pioneer, which we all won. But we also recently lost a case against Yamaha in China related to a simple fader knob design that involved a design patent we were unfortunately not aware of. We changed the design, we will pay the fees and move on. Notably, Yamaha themselves were sued by Dr. Dre over their headphone designs or entangled in other legal matters, which clearly shows how competitive business is. The heated Apple versus Samsung disputes are a prime example.
"It is our Purpose and Mission to empower Customers who don’t have deep pockets and provide them with the best possible equipment at fair prices. We do understand that we are a fierce competitor and at times controversial as we’re relentlessly push the envelope.
"We would like to thank all our Customers who have supported us over the past 30 years. We are absolutely committed to continue to deliver the best possible products at the lowest possible cost."
–––––– Official Statement from Behringer - ENDS ––––––––
So, this is what Behringer have to say, and it seems that with Swing being just one part of a much greater puzzle we're curious to see what the free DAW will be like and the level of integration Swing and the other MIDI controllers will employ.