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Peavey, Behringer locked in legal dispute

Patent and competition issues between Peavey and Behringer look set to be keeping m’learned friends very busy over the next few months.

Patent and competition issues between Peavey and Behringer brand owner The MUSIC Group (Uli Behringer pictured) look set to be keeping m’learned friends very busy over the next few months.

Industry observers with long memories will be aware that this is by no means the first time that difficulties have arisen between the two camps. In 2009, Peavey filed a lawsuit against Behringer in the US District Court of New Jersey for alleged patent infringement, federal and common law trademark infringement, false designation of origin, trademark dilution and unfair competition relating to, among other things, Peavey’s patented Feedback Locating System.

More recently, Peavey filed an action against Behringer in the Southern District of Mississippi, accusing Behringer of infringing a patent relating to the Peavey Messenger portable sound system.

Now, hostilities appeared to have reached a new level with a welter of activity in both directions over recent weeks. On 28 April, The MUSIC Group revealed that it had filed suit in the US District Court against Peavey Electronic Corporation for what is described as ‘false advertising, false patent marking and unfair competition’. In making these allegations, The MUSIC Group cites an ongoing investigation of its own initiation that has assessed Peavey products with regard to US patent laws and FCC regulations.

Defending its own record in this area, senior vice-president of marketing, Costa Lakoumentas, commented: “The MUSIC Group has invested millions of dollars in comprehensive testing and compliance labs and in quality control programs to ensure its products are in full compliance with all regulatory standards. Additionally, we also go well beyond the requirements of US regulations by certifying our products through the UL Safety Standards process, thus ensuring our products are safe for consumers. Compliance with federal regulations and safety are top priorities in The MUSIC Group and we expect other companies in the market place to take these matters as seriously as we do.”

In 2006, however, the FCC proposed a $1 million forfeiture against Behringer USA for apparent violation of its equipment authorisation rules. The Commission concluded that Behringer seemed to have violated the organisation’s rules by marketing at least 50 models of unauthorised digital audio devices in the US.

Following The MUSIC Group’s announcement, a 29 April statement from Peavey revealed that it had initiated multiple actions against various Behringer-related ‘entities’ for what it describes as ‘various intellectual property issues’, including patent infringement, false marking, trademark infringement and unfair competition.

Alluding to The MUSIC Group action, Peavey said that it would vigorously defend itself against what it describes as a ‘baseless, retaliatory lawsuit.’

“Behringer, MUSIC Group and its numerous corporate identities in various locations, are no stranger to litigation against them for patent and trademark infringement,” said Ronald Bienstock, attorney for Peavey. “Behringer has been a party to multiple intellectual property related lawsuits with other companies in the music instrument and pro-audio industry.

“During its entire 46-year history, Peavey has always taken its responsibility to comply with governmental requirements seriously. Peavey engages in rigorous testing to ensure its products meet or exceed regulatory requirements.”