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.
UPDATE: Behringer has responded to the ongoing discussion about the Swing, read an excerpt below.
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:
— Arturia (@ArturiaOfficial) November 23, 2020
And then Arturia CEO Frédéric Brun said:
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).
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.