The new Behringer pedals: A visual aid

I've been thinking a lot about this crazy new range of Behringer pedals, wondering if it is possible to copyright the look, shape and colour of a product.
  • In the 1980s, Gibson tried and failed to sue a load of companies producing Les Paul copies, but last year, they (bafflingly) won a judgment against Paul Reed Smith for making a very vaguely Les Paul-ish guitar (lengthy judgement here).
  • Headstock designs seem to be copyrightable. In the 70s, Gibson succesfully sued Ibanez and Tokai (who briefly had a "Les Paul Reborn" model), and Fender have done it several times.
  • Roland Corp (who own Boss) are pretty litigious: They've sent cease & desist letters to people making VST's with the word 'Juno' in the title, and sued over copyright and grey imports.
  • Behringer have had legal run-ins with Mackie and Aphex in the past.
  • Boss themselves had trouble. In the 80s, they released the SF-1 Superdistortion Feedbacker pedal. DiMarzio sued, because they made "Superdistortion" pickups, so it became the DF-2 Super Feedbacker and Distortion, which really doesn't sound so good.

  • Comments:
    I think Roland sold the rights for these things, but I can't find the link anymore...
    yeah I think I remember that. Im liking the look of the big Muff copy though!
    Chy -
    Let the guys like Analogman and Keely go over these, they might be a good deal. Lord knows there isn't much in these pedals, and Boss has been known for using alot of components to do simple things. Maybe Behringer found a way to get the sound with half the Caps.... FET switching is nice on the Boss pedals though....
    Roland is suing Behringer in the United States for infringement of intellectual property rights. A posting on the Roland US website accuses Behringer of launching ‘a line of guitar effects pedals which replicate the distinctive features’ of Roland’s Boss pedals 'with such painstaking detail that the Behringer pedals are nearly indistinguishable from the Boss pedals.’
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    hey guys, what about POD XT Live? any comments? does save lots of money compared to these...

    wee kee
    domain search
    So, are they out yet, or is the legal stuff part of the delay?
    Why anyone would choose to put Behringer gear in their signal path is beyond me. It's like the audio equivalent of 'Potted Meat Product'. Uli Behringer is the worst biter in the biz. His company has, essentially, no R&D overhead because everything they make is reverse engineered from someone else's product. The Aphex thing was ridiculous, but they're a small company; maybe Roland has the resources to put Behringer out to pasture for good (wishful thinking, maybe.) BTW, I seem to remember that Boss is now a separate entity from Roland.
    As far as Behringer goes.. I don't care what you say about them, there products are not CRAP and they work just as well if not better and longer than some of the companies that they cloned. I don't always agree with their lack of knowledge and R&D like you said, but don't discredit the product. It's cheap, it allows a lot of people to have nicer gear, and more of it, then if we all had to buy DBX and Focusrite, etc... Do you actually own anything behringer or just like to hear yourself talk?
    FWIW, I consider most Focusrite and dbx stuff low end, too.
    I think these pedals are going to make a good impression in the industry. Behringer sells a good (maybe not great) product for a fair price (unlike Boss which sells a great product at a high price) and if these pedals sound good, then it'll make a good impression for the consumer. Boss, at a minimum, will have to lower their prices much like Line 6 had to lower theirs to compete with Behrginer's V-Amp line of modelers.

    Ultimately I think sticking with a company for the sake of its name or reputation is often a bad idea because in the end (especially these days) everything comes down to cost and function. If it works well and costs $20 as opposed to works well and costs $80, which would you buy?
    Since when are Boss "great products"? They are utilitarian : they get the job done but are by no means great.
    Behringer is such awful shit quality. If you're unsure about your music talents and commitment, get Behringer, but if you are planning to take your music anywhere, don't even think about the Bad B.

    Behringer mixers, especially must burn, behry, burn!
    Funny how people automatically assume that if something's cheap then it must be crap too. Behinger don't have any R&D division because they don't need to do research when using other peoples designs (meaning "nearly as good as the original"). Not a very noble aproach, agreed, but that and the fact that they make their stuff in china is responsible for the low price, not low quality or a lack of developement.
    Some time have passed since last post and it seems Behringer changed the design somewhat...

    ...what's interesting though is the fact that Roland/Boss claims ownership to an exterior design that was brought to the market by DOD.. the BOSS pedals were looked upon as clones when they first came out...

    (yes I'm THAT old) ;-)
    "If you're unsure about your music talents and commitment, get Behringer, but if you are planning to take your music anywhere, don't even think about the Bad B."

    ...Jeez guy turn down the bitter! My behringer mixer has served me well and taken all the abuse I've dished at it and it's still working like the day I bought it. Do you work for Mackie or something? Bugger off!
    Yeah, those Behringer mixers work great.....until you actually take them out of your basement. I've never seen a behringer in a club that didn't have dead channels...and FORGET taking one on the road--that stuff is not roadworthy. Mackie might not exactly be SSL, but the shit will still work in 2 years. Try that with Behringer.
    i haver used my behringer mixer for like 4 years w/out any problems at all. including gigs and on the go use. no dead channels and no hiss. the preamps aren't that great and the aux channel isn't perfect but its still a great mixer. alot better than the last 3 i have had, a fostex, a yamaha and a mackie. other behringer products i have not been so lucky with. the di20 i bought was utterly useless. i think they have been in the mixer business long enough to get it right though.
    little update- behringer seem to have ceased & desisted with the boss-clones (the replacements are somewhat anonymous-looking, with the same colour scheme as the boss range but without the direct correspondence they once had, & the pedal actuators have a curved profile now) but the "EH" models are still available. the big muff knockoff is £30 in london's west-end emporia.
    I've been recording in my studio professionally for past 30 years so I know about gear. Here's my opinion on Behringer gear. It's great for kids or un-important work because it's cheap and it does the job well to a certain extend. I personally have various Behringer compressors, mixers and effects but only use them for sound monitoring or band rehearsals.
    Never for recording on gigs becuase the sound quality is bad for that application. On the other hand my son has his own studio, which is stacked with Behringer gear. He's learning the ropes and quality gear would be too expensive to do just that. SO the Behringer isn't so bad,it's just not for professional use that's all. It's an affordable fun. When you buy cheap it isn't going to be a pro quality it's simple as that. Like DBX stuff? The top of the line is good, the cheap stuff like DBX266XL is just about as usefull as the Behringer.
    Well, I had a behringer mixer that I got rid of, because of the hiss on the effect line, and the inconsistent levels with the different channels. I get the feeling that they don't really test their product after leaving the assembly line, which would explain how there are a lot of people with horror stories, along with those that don't have any problems. I beleive that behringer is OK if there is something you need as a quick backup or temporary replacement. But nothing to bank on.

    However, if they ended up starting making electribes, I would probly buy of those.
    Gibson never tradmarked the design of the Les Paul. I read somewhere that legal folks actually insisted they should, for a nominal (not outrageous) fee. Gibson declined and everyone ran around like crazy copying the style all the way down to the pickup placement and tuners. Bad mistake but it never really affected the mystique, desire and collectable value of a real Gibson Les Paul. No real loss there I suppose...

    The Behringer effect pedals are a trip though! That's pretty bad. I'd love it if someone A/B them against the Boss pedals. Let's face it though, distortion to a 14 year old kid is distortion. Which pedal do you think he's going to buy?
    Yo interesting thoughts all. Heres my opinion- as a gigging younger guitarist.

    Yes boss are better and yes they are far more expensive.

    Avoid Behringer distortion at all costs they all sound terrible (except the big muff clone vintage distortion which is quite respectable).

    digital reverb and digital delay (to a lesser extent) are brilliant and match the boss models completely. I highly reccomend these pedals if you are after delay/reverb functions.

    The hellbabe wah is quite shocking however if you only dabble try it for yourself just dont expect miracles.

    THE VERDICT- i was curious about these pedals mainly because of their price and as a result have tried most of them. If you want distortion you WILL have to pay- MI audio/ Vox Bulldog/ Marshall Govenor are all brilliant- Behringer distoriton= terrible. Behringer delay/reverb- perfectly acceptable! Tremelo, tuners and others- decent. Just stear clear of all behringer amp modelling and behringer bass amps as the are god aweful in everyway.

    Cheers guys!
    riwell.. just my 1 cent worth.. my company has been doing sound for years.. we started off with behringers as they were cheap, but we're slowly phasing them out one by one..

    Like many have said, the quality isn't reliable, and 2ndly, the sound quality is not up to par.

    Trust me about the sound quality. Try feeding a sound source straight to the mains without any gear in between, and then try inserting a Behringer compressor.. you'll hear a vast difference.. the sound becomes much thinner, harsher and noisier. This is my personal experience with the MDX2200 compressor / limiter.

    Regarding the mixers, it's not road worthy.. We have a couple of Behringers.. PFLs started failing, Auxes fail.. Effects fail.. and even channels and phantom power fails..

    All these are true personal experience. I personally think that all companies should focus on both quality and cost. They shouldn't just shift to China because it's cheap.. maybe production should move back to better places and be handled by better people
    The OP asked: Is it possible to copyright the look, shape and colour of a product?

    Yes! It is called a registered industrial design!!

    In the UK (where I assume you are) it is called the Registered Design Act 1949

    Under the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Deposit of Industrial Designs, a WIPO-administered treaty, a procedure for an international registration exists. An applicant can file for a single international deposit with WIPO or with the national office in a country party to the treaty. The design will then be protected in as many member countries of the treaty as desired.
    If Roland / Boss US can say the Behringer pedals are nearly indistinguishable from the Boss pedals then maybe all you Behringer-knockers will finally all shut up and get playing your guitars.
    That judgment against PRS seems to have been obtained in a Nashville court. Hmm, what a coincidence, that's Gibson's HQ town.
    My band started out with loads of behringer stuff. Our singer is an dealer, so it was just the cheapest. We have started phasing them out bit by bit. We all still use the tuners though, they can be frustrating but they are wicked accurate. As for pa equipment, we still use the board and compressors etc. You just have to realize what you are buying. If you are looking for a super low price on some patch bay or compressor, go with behringer. If you want high fidelity studio equipment, then you should be smart enough to know better than to buy the cheapest crap on the market.

    Alot of people bitch about the 4x10 guitar cabs. They are 400 watt cabs people. If you plug in any of the behringer heads or any 100 watt or under head, it is going to sound weak. Period.

    Don't badmouth them, they are driving down prices in the market, after all. Just pay attention to what you are buying.
    "Don't badmouth them, they are driving down prices in the market, after all. Just pay attention to what you are buying."

    And how is that any good for the companies like Pioneer, Roland, and Mackie, who must spend money on R&D costs? It'll end up putting them out of business. And then who will Behringer copy?
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