Uli Behringer’s Music Tribe transfers rights of Oberheim trademark back to Tom Oberheim
“Thanks to Uli and the team at Music Tribe and Behringer, I own the worldwide rights to my name for the first time since 1985.”
Tom Oberheim (right) and Dave Smith. Image: Jesse Grant / Getty Images for NAMM
Tom Oberheim has regained the worldwide rights to the Oberheim trademark for the first time since 1985. Uli Behringer’s company, Music Tribe, returned the rights to the synth pioneer, having owned registrations for the Oberheim trademarks in several countries.
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“Thanks to Uli and the team at Music Tribe and Behringer”, Tom Oberheim said in a press release, “I own the worldwide rights to my name for the first time since 1985. It is a wonderful homecoming, and it is a thrill to once again be able to have the Oberheim name and logo placed on my products.”
Oberheim’s trademark was acquired by Gibson in 1988 after Oberheim filed for bankruptcy in 1985 when the company’s lender decided to no longer fund it. Gibson continued to manufacture Oberheim-brand products independent of Tom for around 20 years.
In 2009, Oberheim fans and musicians prompted Tom to return to the synth world. He worked on a new generation of SEM (Synthesizer Expander Module) products based on the original design from 1974. Then, in 2019, Tom regained ownership of the Oberheim trademark in the USA and several other countries.
According to Tom, gaining back ownership in these countries “led to the hope that someday I would be able to use my own name in all countries where the Oberheim trademark exists”. He then contacted Uli Behringer’s Music Tribe to acquire the trademark in all other countries.
“Tom Oberheim is a pioneer of analogue synthesizers, and our whole industry owes him a debt of gratitude for his innovations,” said Uli Behringer. “When we learned that Tom was still interested in making his own products with his original name, we knew the right thing to do was to transfer all of our Oberheim registrations back to him.”
Earlier this year, Music Tribe’s application to trademark the “Behringer Oberheim” name was rejected. According to USPTO documents, the request was rejected as it may have “falsely suggest a connection with Tom Oberheim”. In 2019, Music Tribe succeeded in removing trademark protection for the Oberheim name for music hardware in the European Union.
Tom Oberheim’s full ownership of the Oberheim trademark may indicate that new synth products are on the way from the legendary brand – only time will tell.
Meanwhile, Behringer recently announced that its UB-Xa synth is nearing completion. The synth is inspired by the Oberheim OB-Xa, an iconic 80s synth that is still sought-after today.