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Behringer Oberheim trademark bid fails, so what does this mean for the UB-Xa synth?

Behringer UB-Xa
(Image credit: Behringer)

It appears that Behringer’s parent company Music Tribe has failed in its attempt to trademark the ‘Behringer Oberheim’ name in the US.

According to documents released online, dated 4 March 2021, the application was refused on the basis that “Tom Oberheim is a famous audio engineer and electronics engineer well-known for designing effects processors, analog synthesizers, sequencers, and drum machines.

“The evidence indicates that due to his fame in the relevant electronic music instrument industry, the surname Oberheim uniquely and unmistakably points to Tom Oberheim and a connection with Tom Oberheim would be presumed when applicant’s mark is used on its goods.”

The documents state that Music Tribe must respond to the judgement within six months, or its application will be abandoned.

Among the evidence cited is an article on MusicRadar, which reported on Gibson’s decision to “do the right thing” and give the Oberheim brand back to Tom Oberheim in 2019. Gibson took ownership of the Oberheim name in 1988, when the original company was declared bankrupt.

Presumably, Behringer was keen to acquire the Oberheim branding to use on its forthcoming UB-Xa, a clone of Oberheim’s legendary OB-Xa synth. Curiously, a recent social media post shows a prototype of this instrument with the OB-Xa name on it; whether Behringer intends to use this on the final production model - or whether it will be allowed to - is unclear.

Just to confuse things further, Dave Smith’s Sequential recently filed its own trademark application for the OB-X name. Smith worked with Tom Oberheim on the OB-6 synth, which was released in 2016.

You may also have noticed that the Music Tribe website lists Oberheim as one of its brands on its website. This appears to relate to a judgement made by the European Union Intellectual Property Office in 2019, which, according to Amazona.de, saw trademarking of the Oberheim name for use on electronic music equipment in the EU being revoked.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Group Content Manager for MusicRadar, specialising in all things tech. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 20 of which I’ve also spent writing about music technology. 

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