Dan Dugan, CEO of Dan Dugan Sound Design, Inc., and recognised as the inventor of the acclaimed ‘Automixer’ automatic microphone mixing system (pictured), has issued a statement to clarify his company’s position with regards to Behringer’s use of the ‘Dugan’ name.
“It has come to our attention that equipment manufacturer Behringer is using the Dugan name without permission,” said the statement, released on 1 May 2015, the day after Behringer parent Music Group announced it was to acquire TC Group (see Behringer’s Music Group to acquire TC Group).
“We are always flattered when other manufacturers use expired Dan Dugan patents. Major names like Calrec, Lawo, SSL, and Studer have implemented ‘gain sharing’ algorithms that are variations on Dugan's original work. Behringer, however, has been using Dan Dugan's trademarked name without permission to describe a process that is not licensed. Dugan licensing guarantees the highest quality of transparent automixing.”
Sound engineer Dugan’s original 1974 patent for the automixer (“Control Apparatus for Sound Reinforcement Systems") expired in 1991 and has been in the public domain ever since.
While products such as the Behringer X AirX12 digital mixer list ‘Revolutionary Dugan* Auto-Mixing’ in the technical specification on the Behringer website, a disclaimer in the footnotes states: “*All third-party trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Their use neither constitutes a claim of the trademark nor affiliation of the trademark owners with Music Group.”
In a letter dated December 15 2014 to Uli Behringer, CEO of Music Group, Dan Dugan wrote: “I am pleased to license my algorithm to manufacturers, but in your case I can't find a file for licensing to Behringer […] Please let me know if you want to become a Dugan licensee, which includes patents, trademarks, and know-how.
“If you intend to realise gain sharing using the principles revealed in my expired patents, I will be flattered by your imitation, but in that case you may not use my trademarked name in association with your products,” said the letter.
The engineer says he received a reply the same day from Music Group’s legal counsel, stating that the company had conducted an internal review and investigation of his concerns including a legal analysis, and determined that Music Group was not in violation of any of Dugan’s IP rights.
As a result of the exchange, Dugan told PSNEurope he will now register his name and logo at the first opportunity. “I was a sole proprietorship for 45 years. I had always relied for protection on implicit trademarks and my reputation in the industry,” he says. “Now I've incorporated and begun to seek global markets, I have to move up from that naïve position.”