Roland have registered the trademark for the design of the 303 and the 808 in Germany. The moves comes suspiciously soon after Behringer – a German company – showed off their final version of the RD-808, a not-so-subtle clone of the legendary machine.
Given that Roland are a Japanese company but chose to file in Germany is a good indication of how they feel about Behringer's new range of products, with the company registering everything from the layout of knobs and buttons on the 303 to the sequencer colours of the 808. Of course, registering a trademark and having it accepted are two different things, but will Roland be able to argue their design is iconic enough to be considered trademarkable?
It's not just Behringer who've been inspired by Roland's intellectual property – there are endless clones and sample packs of the 808 and 303. Given Behringer's prominence in the game – and their own relationship with lawsuits – Roland's hand may have been forced on this occasion. Interestingly, the 909 didn't make it into the trademark application, but perhaps it's on the horizon. You can read the full trademark applications originally reported by Sequencer.de here, if you speak German.