The Clone War - Behringer. Good or Bad?

Haha, cloning Behringer isn’t a joke anymore. These guys actually did it!

i love this move by cme, trolling behringer, but can they get away with it? Behringer “changed” couple things to please the lawyers i guess, but the swidi is a replica with only a changed logo, i cant imagine cme wining a lawsuit on copyright stuff. But then again i have no idea of law, just my 2 cents

maybe CME has been a distribution by Behringer or from now on.

CME keyboards always had other brandings in the early days, especially the model with the little joystick

I guess the swing family is going to be rebranded all over the globe

You can’t copyright a midi keyboard so law is not an issue.

Maybe Behringer bought-in the manufacture of the Swing and didn’t word their exclusivity clause well? Seems weird because whoever does make the thing risks upsetting the large customer. The irony of Behringer having issue would be so ironic.

Or perhaps Behringer just bought CME?

Actually a very close copy can run into trouble legally with a part of trademark law called trade dress.

Trade Dress Wikipedia

This is about copies so close that they might mislead a buyer. This is probably related to the changes made by Behringer to differentiate the Swing from the Keystep.

Even the name Swi-di may push some buttons, relative the Swi-ng trademark.

All this is something to be decided if pressed through the legal process.

This seems like a safe space to say that the new Grandmother knock-off is just as egregious as their M32 and DFAM clones. For all I know (and hope) Moog aren’t too troubled and have a different & reliable customer base, but Behringer’s actions here seem indefensible to me - if they were creating original competitors, no problem, but effectively cloning and undercutting in-production gear is flat-out sleazy, and of course they know it and rely on it being a talking point.

I don’t expect my distaste to have any consequence or effect, and I think in general the best approach is to ignore these tactics, but it’s nice to have a place where I can get it off my chest without derailing the topic or triggering a riot.


not the concept midi keyboard, but the design. You cant manufacture a product which looks identical to one of a competitor and only exchange the brand.

1 Like

Not sure but are you referring to the Behringer Model 15 announcement ? If so i’ve put a little comparison up.

( post with more detail )

There are certainly resemblances like the colors and some of the knob arrangements and selection of functional parts.

Behringer seems to base their new Model 15 semi-modular on a condensation from their “System 55” Eurorack modules, which are based on the much older ( early 1970s ) and often copied Moog modular design.

They mashed a bunch of these together on one circuit board and moved the patch connections off into a matrix. Behringer also sells bundles of sets of their Eurorack modules, the 15, 35, and 55.

If this is the Grandmother “clone” that you refer to – it certainly is derivative, but i don’t see much that pushes it too far. ( Assuming there isn’t something that we can’t see that really crosses the line. Behringer has been pretty careful about those sorts of things. )

Certainly relative the Behringer Edge, Crave, and especially the Swing, which i feel crosses the line enough for me not to buy, the Model 15 seems fine.

I think it’s more apt to compare the original Grandmother color scheme:


They essentially just moved the patch points to the side. #innovation

I guess they did manage to make it look even worse, so credit where credit is due.


You can and it is done widely. Be it t-shirts, toothpaste, toasters etc etc

If there is nothing deemed ip in the B design (there isn’t) and no question of mistaken identity (on part of the consumer, when choosing between the products) then there is no issue regarding copyright.

I did say knock-off rather than clone, but yes, this is the one - and as @xidnpnlss says, the colour scheme is definitely a factor, though not the only one. I can see the appeal, certainly the economic appeal - affordable alternatives are great - but if I ask how I’d feel about myself if I went about creating an affordable alternative this way, the answer is “pretty bad”. Again, I don’t expect to achieve anything by moaning, but I think they do deserve challenging on all this nonsense (and of course I note your considered reply re. their other devices). It’s difficult because to challenge it is to draw attention to it, which is what they want. But I don’t grind my teeth over it or anything like that, as it’s hardly the world’s biggest problem right now. It’s just nice to have a whinge about it once a month.


Human societies wouldn’t have been very far if the usage of the wheel and/or the fire had been patented indefinitely and sold at exhorbitant prices.

I am not so fond of exact copycats, like does the TD-3 needs to have the same color, buttons/knobs/sequencer placement as the TB-303? I don’t think so. However the existence and success of Bontrager is probably a signal that music gear is too expensive in general. Sometimes beginners or people with low income may want to have options. While I would tend to steer anyone wanting affordable to go software only [1], I tend to prefer Korg’s approach with the volcas line of hardware to Behringer mimicking the design of other brands. I just hope Behringer devices are reliable enough so that customers aren’t feeling deceived, my only experience with them is a small portable 4 way mixer and an inexpensive “backup” audio interface that I barely use.

[1] There is already a lot you can do with a 150€ second hand laptop some free and sub 100€ DAWs, trackers and VST’s.

Not trying to argue, but just curious. The Proco Rat is a pretty iconic guitar pedal that is still in production but it is copied down to the chip by boutique and cheap builders alike.

Another pedal like this is the DOD250. JHS has copies of both and in their history videos they speak to the original creators. The DOD one is particularly interesting as it turns out that the 250 was actually an attempt at a part-for-part copy of the MXR Distortion + (which was a pedal that had just been released at the time; equivalent to Behringer copying brand new Moog products). The DOD250 ends up being it’s own thing because of small differences in the parts used. DOD and MXR did actually have some legal battles at the time over the phaser if I’m remembering correctly, so there was some attempt to get DOD to respect some boundaries.

These circuits were also copied by tons of other competing companies, as was the case with guitars like Fenders and Gibsons (Fender Japan was actually making knock-offs before becoming officially licensed. Now of course Made in Japan Fenders are highly regarded in their own right).

I guess my question is why don’t people care about it in the guitar world, but in the synth world it’s so taboo? A Fender USA Strat or Gibson Les Paul is still going to set you back thousands of dollars even through cheap copies exist. In fact, cheap guitars are gateways to expensive guitars, so it ends up being win-win.

Surely people that want a real Moog will continue to buy those, but is there no place for cheap knockoffs for people that can’t afford them. Does it really devalue the brand more than a knockoff Strat devalues a Fender Strat?

Clearly there are rules and when lines are crossed, lawyers step in. The real line is crossed when people try to trick you into thinking you bought a legit product (fake Rolexes and Gucci, etc).

Another thing to consider is that the value of cheap knockoffs is reflected in resale value. I once heard someone say that the difference between a build-it-yourself knockoff of a boutique guitar pedal and the real thing is that the real thing has resale value. You won’t be getting Klon prices for your home brew Klon, no matter how close it may be to the circuit. In fact, good luck selling it for a price that covers the parts!

Anyway, just food for thought.

These are great videos by the way if you want to know the history of these pedals. It’s kind of amazing that JHS can actually go visit the factories and talk with the original creators and still sell his own clones of these. Nobody is getting mad.

And to bring it back to Behringer, JHS has a breakdown of which Behringer pedals are good clones. He tells everyone to go buy the fuzz pedal.

Another interesting take from him is that even as a pedal company owner he thinks Amazon’s entry into the guitar effects market just shows how healthy the market is, and thinks getting more people interested in buying pedals will be great for everyone. Again, gateway products to more expensive stuff. Some of those people buying Behringer are going to start lusting after Moogs and other boutique builders. Why? Because people still think it’s cooler to have the legit stuff. Same with Rolex watches, and let’s not kid ourselves Moogs are luxury products, just for a different set of consumers.


There is black and white, blue sky and purely counterfeit. And then there is a world of other shades in between, where most all design falls. This can get into critiquing of design philosophy.

I’d love some more blue sky too. But they’ve come a ways to be working on variants of a Roland CR-78 ( if that is what that is, it is so different from the original ), an RSF Kobol Expander, and an ARP Avatar.

Hopefully this is just paying some dues, for blue sky later.

how is this paying dues. you pay dues by taking your lumps.
they are making money on the lumps others have taken. :confused:

Because Behringer was the first corporation in the synth world doing it on a large scale. With synths and the likes this type of business hasn’t been as normalized as it is in the guitar world, until recent years.

As i said i’d like some more blue sky risk too. I don’t think any of the three i mention are likely to be strong money makers, as well as several other products they have in development.

But they are developing corporate knowledge, by taking up unusual technology design decisions, they are pushing open other design possibilities.

Another way to pay dues, as a corporation, is to develop engineering expertise, and recombine them into new innovative products.

I don’t think making product failures is ever desirable, though unavoidable in practice, you always aim for success, whether that be measured monetary or otherwise.

1 Like

This often seems to get brought up relating to this company, so I have two answers:

  1. Two wrongs don’t make a right. :wink:
  2. It feels very different in the guitar world…

When it’s guitars, people are copying a shape, which I don’t really see a problem with. There’s only so much you can do with a guitar shape that doesn’t look shit or pointlessly weird. Ergonomics dictates a lot of it, and people end up having very similar designs even when they try not to. How many degrees different would a lower horn curve need to be to not be viewed as the same for example.

Pedals/amps - similar thing to say, a ladder filter. It is often very small/simple circuits that are copied, even just a chip or opamp in some cases. There is then only so much you can do differently to still have that circuit work and sound good. It often started with people making their own version of a pedal with some tweaks or mods because they thought they could improve the circuit. Similar to a company releasing their own version of a monosynth, these are just more complicated devices.

In either case, I personally still take issue with a company releasing 1:1 copies of any product. If someone came out with a rebranded copy of an Orange Rockerverb 100 mk3 I would take issue with it, but if a company made a “British sounding, 2 channel, 100 watt amp with reverb and an EL34 poweramp” (that wasn’t an exact copy) I would say crack on. Just as I would if Behringer actually released a synth that wasn’t advertised as (or very obviously) a copy of someone else’s work. As far as I’m aware, the Neutron is the only recent product where that has been the case.

It all comes down to where you draw the line between inspiration and plagiarism.

1 Like

Both Gibson and Fender fought in court not terribly long ago to protect their characteristic shapes, with trademark. They both lost, for technical reasons, although shape can be covered by trademark, as for instance with the Adidas Swoosh ( joke there to make a point ). It might be difficult but trademark on a guitar shape isn’t an impossibility.

As for an electronic device like a synth, its construction would be difficult to protect. As i posted about earlier, a true counterfeit can be protected with trade dress parts of trademark law. Trade dress could also apply to guitar shape.

Trademark of course does not apply to electronic circuit design.

Patents can be had on electronic things not obvious to someone knowledgeable in the art ( of electronics for instance ). Good luck with 99.9% plus of all current design finding anything to patent with any part of the design.

So shape really is worth mentioning when talking about unfair copying.

1 Like

Nobody says anything when the Moog ladder filter ends up in other stuff from the big companies like Roland and Korg.

1 Like