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Behringer OB-Xa

Behringer OB-Xa  ·  Source: Behringer

Music Tribe’s trademark application of “Behringer Oberheim” may falsely suggest a connection with Tom Oberheim says the US Patent Office.

Behringer Oberheim

In the ever-complex ownership of the Oberheim name, the US Patent Office has decided that it would cause too much confusion for Behringer to use it. Music Tribe had filed an application to use the name “Behringer Oberheim” in August 2020.

The key wording from the USPTO documents is here:

Registration is refused because the applied-for mark consists of or includes matter that may falsely suggest a connection with Tom Oberheim.  Trademark Act Section 2(a), 15 U.S.C. §1052(a).  Although the person is not connected with the goods provided by applicant under the applied-for mark, Tom Oberheim is so well-known that consumers would presume a connection.

It’s also interesting to note that they cited many examples of how Tom Oberheim is still associated with the name including the article I wrote on Gearnews.com just the other day on the release of the TVS Pro Special Edition. Makes you wonder about the timing of Tom’s use of the Oberheim badge – nicely played Tom. Tom got the Oberheim name back from owners Gibson in 2019 as a “goodwill gesture”.

In Europe, it’s a slightly different story where the trademarking of the name Oberheim has essentially lapsed through lack of use which has allowed Behringer to add “Oberheim” to their list of brands and is probably behind their decision to relabel their prototype Oberheim OB-Xa clone with “OB-Xa” rather than as they originally had it “UB-Xa”.

Music Tribe still lists Oberheim from the “Brands” dropdown menu along with newly acquired Aston Microphones but doesn’t list either further down the page if you click on the “Brand Names” menu item.

Music Tribe Brands

Music Tribe Brands

I think the vast majority of synth users are fairly clued up on brands and product naming. Whether Behringer put OB-Xa or UB-Xa on their synth we all still know it’s a clone of a synth by Behringer. Having to call their Roland clones the MS-1 and RD-8 has done nothing to dent their sales and no one is confused about it. Behringer puts far too much value on these things.

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19 responses to “US Patent Office rejects registration of “Behringer Oberheim””

  1. James says:

    How are they still getting away with using the Auratone name? That’s one that particularly irks me..

  2. fastlanestranger says:

    I’ll never purchase a Behringer product.

  3. HorseLips says:

    The “duh” factor is strong with this one.

  4. iixorb says:

    I like Behringer. I like that they bring some of the coolest, most revered kit on the planet back to life in a super-affordable manner.

    But they don’t NEED the Oberheim name to sell this product; if it’s any good – and it will be – people will still buy it in droves, even if it’s called the “Uli-heim” UB-Xa…. or just the Behringer UB-Xa will do!

    • iixorb says:

      In fact just to add to my own comment – I’d actually feel quite uncomfortable if it DID have the Oberheim name on it, knowing that the proper owner of the Oberheim name, Tom Oberheim, might be against this. Uli doesn’t need the Oberheim name on this product – I think that would be a tad crass and it might even have back-fired if he were to have succeeded with the patent rights. Call it your own thing Uli – we’re going to love this one, anyway!

    • pastoelio says:

      i was thinking o-behr-heim

      • iixorb says:

        Good one ! Maybe that’s still too close to the bone for the patent lawyers, but U-Behr-Heim should be safer ground!

  5. Jason says:

    I can’t think Behringer enough for releasing these synthesizers at an affordable price. The affordable price is the actual worth of the synthesizers, not the bloated prices that oberheim and others have charged for their gear for many many years. No musician should have to be wealthy in order to make music on a device that is Affordable and being sold for 50 times it’s worth. The fact that a tb-303 sells used for 3 to 4 thousand dollars today should tell you everything you need to know about the reality that these machines really only cost about $100 to make, maybe less. Rollin could have just as easily released their 808, 303, 909 series again at an affordable rate, beating Behringer to the punch. They did not. Roland did not listen to the consumers who for decades have been begging for them to release these machines. Beringer listened. Behringer should not have to use the oberheim name or any other name, they simply need to put the synthesizers out like they have been so that other manufacturers like oberheim, Roland, korg and others follow suit and start charging fare rates for their overpriced synthesizers. Thank you Uli, you’re a godsend!

  6. Steve B says:

    Such a shame Behringer have taken the path they have. When they started remaking old synths, they pretty much became my heroes! 🙂 Unfortunately, the way they have gone about their business since has put me off ever buying Music Tribe products again. Of course, that won’t last and I’m sure to buy something of theirs again but certainly not as much as I was planning i.e. all of the synths they make!

    • Jupiter 8 says:

      Yeah, point taken, Behringer can be a bit cut-throat in their approach, no prisoners taken. But I do think they’ve got the most important things right. Firstly, they do listen to potential customers. Secondly, the remakes are good quality for the price, a homage to the original device, as well as being products for an eager market. Maybe Behringer will chill a bit once they’ve got all the good remakes done, who can tell? On the plus side, you can get a polyphonic Minimoog and MonoPoly that would have been near impossible for most……

  7. Michael says:

    Because of Behringer , most of us are having access at so many beautiful equipments which normaly in original fashion they would have been absolutely intangible ….. In my point of view I can only say – THX Behringer – good job – !!!

  8. Phil says:

    Thanks to you Uli
    My dreams come true …
    Monopoly, 2600 , odyssey, rd9 and soon ubx, vcs3…and. Maybe linndrum, Oberheim dmx , korg maxi 800, Yamaha cs 80 etc etc , thanks

    • pfrf says:

      When I was young I never dreamed of having cheap clones of other people’s beautiful iconic synths, but everybody is different.

      For the current analog revival we can thank Dave Smith, Korg, Arturia, Moog, Studio Electronics, Dreadbox, Vermona, and all the modular folks.

  9. CR-78, and get your skates on, Uli! says:

    Well Oberheim is still a trading name, so I’m not surprised, probably a fair decision. Looking forward to the remake coming out though. Behringer are only doing what the original manufacturers should have done decades ago. One thing’s for sure, hardware was dying at the expense of software until Korg, Behringer and the like started making analogue repros, now all the manufacturers are benefitting from hardware being cool again.

  10. UHF says:

    Near end of article – “I think the vast majority of synth users are fairly clued up on brands and product naming. ”

    No they’re really not. Most people don’t know or care about the history and looking at a Behringer Oberheim, would assume Oberheim was involved in its design. That was the intention.

    • Nomenclature says:

      Agree. I can see why Behringer want to get close to the model name they are cloning, but there’s really no need to go for the brand name. Using Model D is ok, but Moog is not OK. WASP is a dead brand so that’s fine. They’re great repros that Behringer make, but they are repros, not the original, the name given to them should reflect that in my view.

  11. john smith says:

    Uli Behringer is an Absolute Scumbag as is anyone who supports his Narcissism , wheres his respect for Tom Oberheim ? down the toilet much like the respect he showed Bob Moog.

    • Rebirth and the 303? says:

      Oh, Tom Oberheim and Bob Moog (RIP) couldn’t care less. They’re serving different markets. People who buy a Boog can’t afford a Minimoog, and people who can afford a Minimoog wouldn’t buy a Boog. It’s a different market. Behringer shouldn’t even have tried to use Tom Oberheim’s name though. That’s going too far. Nobody who buys Moog or SC/Oberheim gear will be put off doing that by Behringer’s clones, or Arturia would have put both out of business years ago.

      • adrian says:

        “People who buy a Boog can’t afford a Minimoog, and people who can afford a Minimoog wouldn’t buy a Boog”
        mike dean begs to differ

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