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New controversy surrounding old audio name

test 23 June 2009

US: A dispute has emerged between LOUD Technologies and former employee Ken Berger, reports PSN-e. According to a release issued by EAW parent company LOUD Technologies, the recent PALM Expo China in Beijing witnessed Berger’s “apparent launch” of the Forsythe Audio Systems brand. In other news, LOUD has announced the ‘unification’ of its engineering and product management responsibilities into two market-focused groups.

Co-owned by Kenton Forsythe and Lou Freedman, Forsythe Audio Systems was based in Watertown, Massachusetts, and was a fixture of the pro-audio loudspeaker manufacturing sector in the late 1970s. Amongst others, Forsythe Audio Systems also included Ken Berger in the role of national sales manager.

Forsythe (pictured), now vp and executive engineer at EAW, said in a June 11 statement: “First and foremost, I want to be crystal clear: I am not involved in any way with Ken Berger or the outfit that presented the so-called Forsythe Audio Systems brand at PALM. I am outraged to see my name, and the name of a company I co-owned with Lew Freedman in the 1970s, used this way.”

The LOUD Technologies announcement also alluded to “eye witness reports that the products introduced at PALM appear to be EAW knockoffs”, with Forsythe commenting: “I do not endorse the products Ken is attempting to sell under my name, nor does EAW. More importantly, none of our authorised suppliers are involved in Forsythe Audio Systems’ production. Only authentic EAW products include our spec components and deliver renowned EAW performance and reliability.”

Forsythe went on to express disappointment in Berger, who now heads a music/pro audio branding company, KB Consulting. “Given Ken’s reputation as an industry innovator and visionary, I’m saddened and disappointed to see him attach both of our names to such activities. As I have for the past 30 years, I am fully involved with EAW new product development and look forward to several exciting product launches later this year. I am 100% dedicated to the EAW brand and I’m not going anywhere.”

When asked for a response, Ken Berger told PSN-e that the LOUD release and claims “were based on wholly inaccurate information”. He is not currently using the Forsythe Audio brand, but it was one of several potential brands he is considering for future use.

Of the so-called Beijing launch, Berger’s Chinese clients had created prototypes that were “objectionable to everybody”, but he acted quickly to ensure that these were destroyed. “The concept of disrespect for IP and brands is something I feel strongly about,” he said. “I would never be involved in knock-off products.

“I am working on a project which is not ready to be publicly announced yet. But it will be innovative, new technology, going back to the concepts of quality and close customer relationships that made pre-LOUD EAW so successful.

“Kenton Forsythe is one of my closest personal and business friends, and I hope to be able to work with him again one day,” concluded Berger.

In other LOUD news, the company has announced the unification of its previously separate engineering, brand management and product management functions and the creation of two market-focused teams: the Pro Audio Group and the Music Group.

Jeffrey Cox, v-p of the Pro Audio Group, will manage the EAW and Martin Audio brands and their market positioning, product strategy and product development, while Music Gear Group v-p John Boudreau will head up the development of Mackie, Ampeg, Blackheart, Alvarez and Crate products.

Explaining the new arrangements, CEO Rodney Olson observed that LOUD has “some of the industry’s most admired brands, a brilliant collection of multi-disciplined engineers and truly customer-focused product management teams. By unifying these disciplines around our core brands and the markets they serve, we will markedly increase our technical innovation and speed the delivery of the next round of products that leave our customers smiling_ and our competitors reeling.”

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