Approximate reading time: 6 Minutes
The original SWING design alongside the KeyStep

The original SWING design alongside the KeyStep  ·  Source: Behringer,Arturia

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The Behringer Swing MIDI controller and sequencer is a direct copy of Arturia’s KeyStep and it’s caused an internet furore. Here’s Arturia’s response to the conversation.

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UPDATE: Behringer has responded to the ongoing discussion about the Swing, read an excerpt below.

Swing

It’s not difficult to spot. The Swing is simply a copy of the KeyStep. We reported on it and at this point I don’t think anyone is any doubt about that.

The internet exploded in commentary. On one side people were amazed that Behringer would be quite so blatant about copying another manufacturer’s current product, while on the other all is fair in love, war and marketing (apparently). But amongst the comments were a lot of claims about licensing and suggestions that everything is made in the same factory in China anyway and it’s common practice in other industries.

Arturia has now responded to the release of Swing with a couple of statements. It began with this:

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And then Arturia CEO Frédéric Brun said:

Hello everyone,

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 with 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 Berhinger 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 a 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. (Source)

Several commentators had said that the design for the KeyStep comes from a company called Design Box and they can sell their designs to whomever they please implying that Behringer had licensed it. Axel Hartmann of Design Box responded on his Facebook page:

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 alway 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 can not represent the core values of the people, he could convince to be part of his company. It is simply sad, and I can not understand that move (like many, it seems).
So there doesn’t appear to be any merit in any of the arguments that Behringer did anything other than directly copy a competitors product. It’s not like we haven’t seen them do it before with Mackie mixers, guitar pedals and the recent TC iRig copy but you always hope that manufacturers will behave like human beings and respect the concepts of intellectual property, competition and just being decent. While bringing old synths back to life has merit, this sort of cloning just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Music Tribe responds

Music Tribe, the umbrella brand that includes Behringer, has issued a reply to the ongoing discussion about Swing. Here’s an excerpt:

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.

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.

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.

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 do understand that we are a fierce competitor and at times controversial as we’re relentlessly push the envelope.

You can read the full post here.

I guess the question is: Does any of this matter to you? Is this going to change how you view Behringer and their products and would this behaviour affect your purchasing decisions? We’d be interested to hear your views.
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37 responses to “Arturia takes a swing at Behringer; Music Tribe responds”

  1. Ugo says:

    Heh… and Behringer wins again! They even managed to include some advertisment in their reply.
    I just don’t understand why manufacturers don’t patent a product’s electronic and cosmetic design. Like Apple has been doing for years.
    I think if you copy an electronic board design this is simply and clearly stealing.
    Why don’t I copy the song Sweet Child O’ Mine and tell GNR that I didn’t copy the song, I just used the same notes and letters.

  2. iixorb says:

    I love my Behringer stuff, but this one just seems overtly arrogant and I think they may find they’ve gone a bit too far this time. Perhaps legally they’ll be able to pull it off ? I’m no patent lawyer. But I think ‘the community’ has a very strong voice and so far it doesn’t appear to sit well with a heck of a lot of people.

  3. Ché La Seye says:

    The fact that Arturia has made all his software by cloning the “wall of fame” of synthesisers makes me laugh at his response.

  4. Don says:

    We all seem to applaud Harley Benton products, which are obviously clones and copies of other products. But then we attack Behringer?

  5. Richard says:

    Hi Behringer,
    If you’re gonna make copycat products, please make a copy of the Logidy EPSI.
    Thanks.

  6. Jim says:

    Arturia has grounds to sue Behringer for everything they have. What they have done is illegal!

  7. Daniel says:

    Oh, the Stratocaster example that happened to be given on the other post right here on Gearnews. Which cooincidence…

    Are these “users” really paid shills of Behringer brigading against Arturia?

  8. TDV says:

    This isn’t competition, it’s just shameless copying in the name of profits. Where is the integrity in that kind of business model? Sure other companies copy and clone things, but no one can do it with the scale, resources and frequency that they can, closing the gap on competition. If you can’t see the writing on the wall than I don’t know what to say…..

    • Jim says:

      People can’t vote to keep a capitalist system where MORE laws are made to encourage it. It’s going to happen, Uli or no Uli

  9. JohnM says:

    TBH I know of Arturia primarily through their soft copies of legendary synths like the Jupiter 8 etc, so I have some sympathy for Music Tribe’s position here.

  10. Gabe says:

    I get where Arturia and Design Box are coming from and they have every right to pursue legal action, based on the current legal systems. Even so, I’m more of a proponent of easing copyright/IP restrictions in the laws, and perhaps abolishing design patents in general. They are still doing the leg work to produce and distribute their own version of the product, taking a proven design instead of going through R&D. It should be up to the market to decide whether it’s viable or not. If anything it makes me want to purchase an Arturia Keystep 37.

  11. Markus Arike says:

    Behringer’s reply is just nonsense. The Gibson and Fender guitars that are now cloned are designs from the 1950s. How many Japanese knock offs, lawsuit guitars, did we see in the 70s and 80s. I’ve been a defender of Behringer in the past, we all like inexpensive analog synths, but they’ve gone too far. I most certainly will be avoiding Behringer products in the future. Douche moves will not endear them to customers.

  12. dean701 says:

    For the consumer, it’s a win. Behringer has a technical team and better team of patent lawyers. If you look historically, they have been putting out clone products for years that are more fairly priced. Many above have said it. Guitar clones, effects pedal clones, amplifier emulations have always been part of the game. If Arturia were smart, they would stop now. All they are doing is advertising Behringer’s product line for them and Behringer will ultimately win in court as they have in the past.

  13. Bas says:

    I don’t think you can compare copying a basic shape from the 60s in a single block of wood with copying a multi-piece industrial design that came out a few years earlier.. but I am no expert on copyright or patents law.

    Personally I was a bit disappointed in Arturia when they just ‘stole’ the whole open source audio engine for their micro freak… so on the other hand I think it kind of serves them right…

    Personally, I won’t buy this Behringer clone. Just give me the original. Its not even expensive.

  14. Thomas says:

    It’s easy not to buy Behringer stuff. Just don’t buy it.

    I avoid their mixers, synth and modular stuff, Midas desks and the TC guitar pedals. Even the DITTO loopers and these always look nice. I’m pretty shure, that the quality is nice. A friend of mine totally loves the little Behringer synths: They do sound fine and the bang for the buck is great. For me the sound or the asthetics are no deal breakers, but the simple fact, that the Behringer strategy sucks. Of course there are other global brands with questionable behaviour, but Behringer always seems worst.

  15. Jason Freeland says:

    There must be a line somewhere between cloning something to spur competition – and plagiarism. It is illegal for an author to clone another authors work and pass it off as their own, but it’s not illegal for a designer to clone another designers work and pass it off as their own. This is very inconsistent application of law and ethics. Sentences are ideas and designs are ideas. WTF.

  16. eat yr Ghost says:

    It’s nuanced, but there is a difference between emulating a classic synth to recreate its sound (or the same with a guitar – a big part of how a Strat sounds comes from its shape, pickup layout, and so forth), and copying industrial design for no good reason. There are hundreds of MIDI controllers that look different but all essentially “sound” the same. In this case, Behringer explicitly copied the industrial design of a more popular one.

    At the end of the day, vote with your wallet. I own Behringer products, I own Arturia products, but I definitely feel better about the latter when it comes to future gear purchases.

  17. Martin says:

    Also sprach… a real self-indulgent douchebag. Oh, the old Stratocaster analogy.., The “go-to excuse” for this sort of behaviour. The biggest problem with Behringer’s modus operandi is that it makes it so much harder for smaller businesses to invest in R&D and bring new ideas and designs into life – when they all know there is a massive great white shark ready to swallow them alive once they get successful. Who’s gonna drive things forward? Sure as h… not this bloated not-one-original-idea sociopathic run company.

    • Bob says:

      Haha, you won’t type “hell” but you will type “douchebag”. Interesting mixed up prudishness there.

  18. William says:

    I don’t buy Behringer gear, and this is simply one more in a long list of reasons why.

  19. John Glynn says:

    These companies make big profits. If they want to make war let them. Not everyone has the money to buy a moog etc. Let the musicians win this war.

  20. Shiv G says:

    Heh, and just when we thought Behringer had started to gain some credibility and respect.
    No matter how good some of his stuff might be these days, I’d never buy any of it. In my opinion he’s a crook, and always will be.

  21. Dave says:

    The image of the MusicTribe is misleading. Only one person in that image of an R&D team still works there

  22. ulrich says:

    UB’s fall back stance of others have done it, so that makes it OK. ??? How about some innovation or a single original thought?
    Ask any of the ex TC Group employees that he bought out about his real motivation . Morally bankrupt…

  23. Your mom says:

    His is the first time I’ve ever posted in a discussion like this but, Behringer gear has always sucked. Eyes roll whenever praised. Thing about ALL the products they’ve ever made is that it is guaranteed to break/malfunction and is never worth repair costs. That crap is known in the industry as “disposable” due the low price and super low quality. Any true pro who needs to settle for it is always bummed out and can’t wait til it breaks in order to upgrade.

  24. Diki Ross says:

    The short sightedness in this thread is amazing. Allow Behringer to blatantly ripoff current products and you stifle innovation. After all, where’s the upside in spending a fortune on R&D if you know someone will steal the design and slash your ability to recoup that investment? It’s not like Behringer invents much, just copies. What you going to do when there’s little left to copy? Use their crappy ‘inventions’?

  25. Stevie stone says:

    Behringer gear is cheap and good for people who can’t afford the real deal. When people take it more seriously they will buy the originals because they are built to last. It’s like people who use crack plugins and people who buy legit. There is lots are market to share. I’m sure Arturia are not going bankrupt because of this… this is just a publicity stunt by Behringer to promote their DAW.

  26. Peter says:

    Using both Arturia and a few Behringer modules this behaviour is complete shit from B’s side. And concidering the price on the Arturia which is already low? What will B do with theirs? Give it away for free? Talking about ”competition” my arse! why then don’t come up with their own design if they want so badly to compete? Idiots! I am still planning on getting s few other Moog and ARP modules from them, although now I am hesitating. But then that will be the last i do if they continue to behave like this. Kick Uli out of the company, and start over from new with a new business strategy … and with a bit of empathy added to it. Thank you!

  27. Erhobener Zeigefinger says:

    Ich habe persönlich nie viel von Behringer gehalten und habe ich auch für mein Studio nie in Betracht gezogen. Ich bin Heute 68 und bin im Handel groß geworden. Das was Behringer hier macht , passt genau in mein Bild und bestätigt meine Einstellung . Die Entwicklungsarbeit einsparen und das Produkt 1:1 kopieren , und dadurch günstiger anzubieten, geht gar nicht. Natürlich kann es sich heute bei der Schnelllebigkeit der Geräte in der Musikbranche keiner leisten alles patentieren zu lassen. Wenn dem so wäre , wären die Preise deutlich höher.
    Wenn sich eine ganze Branche darüber einig ist , empfinde ich das Vorgehen von Behringer als bodenlose Frechheit.
    Ich habe mit Firmen ,die keinen Respekt vor der Leistung anderer haben , meine Erfahrungen. Denen ist egal was andere dazu sagen. Wir als Endkunde sowieso. Da kaufe ich lieber dort , wo ich weiß , das mein Gerät mit Liebe zum Detail entwickelt wurde. Daher kommt für mich ein Behringer Teil gar nicht erst in Frage. Erst recht nicht eine billige Kopie. Ach ja . Wer Arturia kennt , der weiß auch , das es keinen Hersteller gibt , der zu seinen Produkten so tolle verständliche Bedienungsanleitungen in deutsch liefert. Kostet auch Geld .
    Arturia hat auch in der Software super einfach Konzepte entwickelt .
    Ich wünsche Behringer das die Unfairness von uns abgestraft wird.
    Welche Werte wir vertreten sind glaube ich andere.

  28. St Sail says:

    The internet makes it seem like Behringer is the only company to clone products ever. They’ve been given hate for 30 years now. I can get why one has had enough of it.

    • Ab. says:

      Behringer is the only recognizable brand in the music world that have made ripping off others ID their core business model. They haven’t stopped in 30 years where other companies tend to lean towards original product once they’ve grown enough. Lastly no other companies that would cross the line of cloning are remotely the size of evil-B.

      They don’t get nearly the amount of hate they deserve cause… it’s cheap and many people tend to defend that…regardless of ethics.

      So yeah, it’s about time they get a good spanking

      PS : cause people got all mad at this… but remember the crave got away with cloning a device released roughly at the same time as the beatsep just because is had a different form factor. Yup it’s sucked for a long time.

  29. Gary says:

    Just my two cents worth:

    I understand that Arturia has a layout for their Keystep (it’s four years old now) but it has white and black keys! Like so many other keyboards. It has two touch sensitive sliders! Like so many other products. It has three rotary controls! Like so many other products. The sliders are to the left of the keyboard! Like most (if not all) other similar products. The rotary controls are in a line! Yeah… right… so? I mean there is only so many variations one can do with a products layout.

    I just don’t get what all the hulabaloo is about! Ok it looks similar, but the Keystep also looks really similar to other Midi controllers.

    Should Daimler complain on the Internet because all modern cars are ripping them off by having 4 wheels? How dare they! Or by having doors for people to get in and out of their vehicles? How dare they! They even put the doors next to the seats! What a cheek!
    How’s about Von Braun complaining to Elon Musk because his rocket has a nose cone! Thief! And the engines are at the bottom! Goodness me, what a con!

    This is what happens in all sectors. Galaxy smartphones look identical to iPhones, BMW cars have identical layouts to Mercedes cars, Hell, my mouse looks just like any other PC mouse!!! Don’t see anybody complaining. And when they have, they generally lose in court anyway.

    Like one poster wrote, let these corporations at each other, prices will come down , they’ll all sell more products (at lesser margins but will still make the same $$$). Only us musicians win, so what’s all the fuss about? I have zero loyalty to either company, however I may feel bad because I paid more for my “original” (yeah right!) product, but at the end of the day thats MY problem not anyone elses.

  30. TG Fatteicher says:

    My take ? Who cares. Maybe if you bought stocks I one of the companies. I side with Behringer just from the point of being a consumer. They have produced and marketed amazing synths that are affordable easily by anyone. I have had enough of companies that charge above and beyond what is reasonable for their products either in hardware or software. Behringer has my business and always will as they understand the average musician can’t afford and really should not have to be charged artificially propped up prices.

  31. FPHAM says:

    I am a designer and when I design something I do look at other similar products, but at the end the result is naturally different even if it uses the same borrowed language.
    In case of swing vs arturia, this very obviously that who ever was “designing” it simply took physical arturia keystep and caliper and basically created the exact copy. All the rhetoric about cloning is pointless, this is simply a ripped off design and anybody who designed something in his life knows it that this is not by a chance, this is a deliberate attempt to sell based on visual similarities.
    They could so easily have arturia functionality and pay someone to put it in a little different case, and it would not cost them any more, but they deliberately choose not to.

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