Leading electronic musical instrument and equipment manufacturer Roland Corporation has sued Behringer International GmbH and its subsidiaries to enforce Rolands trade dress, trademark, and other intellectual property rights in and to the famous guitar effects pedals manufactured, distributed and sold by Rolands division, BOSS, as well as other Roland products.
BOSS has long been an industry leader in the design and manufacture of guitar effects pedals, recording equipment and other musical instrument accessories. In addition to their unparalleled sound, the BOSS pedals feature a unique combination of aesthetic design elements which have served to establish BOSS as an instantly-recognizable brand and to distinguish BOSS pedals from pedals manufactured by others.
The Complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, alleges that at the January, 2005 NAMM industry trade show, Behringer announced the launch of a line of guitar effects pedals which replicate the distinctive design features of the BOSS pedals with such painstaking detail that the Behringer pedals are nearly indistinguishable from the BOSS pedals.
Roland contends that this is no coincidence, and that the overall look and feel of the Behringer pedals is intentionally designed to confuse consumers as to the origin, sponsorship or affiliation of the Behringer Pedals, and to capitalize and profit from Rolands success, its impeccable reputation and the goodwill that it has developed over years of hard work.
The Complaint alleges that in an effort to gain industry acceptance of the cloned pedals, Behringer falsely assured industry retailers that the Behringer line of pedals was approved and endorsed by Roland.
Dennis Houlihan, President of Roland Corporation U.S. commented: “Imitation is not flattery, and is far from sincere, when the subject is Rolands valuable trade dress. Roland has expended monumental effort and substantial amounts to create and promote the design elements of its BOSS line of guitar effects pedals.
Behringers replication of the famous BOSS trade dress has caused extensive damage to Roland and its reputation, and Behringers false claim that Roland has endorsed Behringers unadulterated infringement is unconscionable.”